Optimism is NOT Arrogance

Arrogance is the belief that you are BETTER than others. Optimism is the belief that you have the same CHANCE as others. We all have the chance to achieve our dreams. Don't ever let anyone tell you differently.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Passive Reading

Welp, the manuscript is away, and back in Caitlin's hands for review.  With any luck, she'll begin shopping it around over the next month and a half.  According to her, the back-to-school time is a great time to get publisher's interested as they update their catalogues for next summer reading.  So here's to an OPTIMISTIC turn around time and good results!

On to other things - saw a great blog blurb about good writing being invisible - meaning the best writing is when the reader doesn't recognize it as great writing.  The chapters flow from one to another, the scenes are seamless, and there isn't a lot of looking up words or floating backwards to try and remember what the heck happened.

Dan Brown's books are like this - that's why they sell so great.  But it's a very difficult state to achieve, needless to say.

For one thing, everyone's tastes are different, so what's really easy to read for one person may be impossible for the next.  Ken Follet's "Pillars of the Earth" is a great example of good storytelling, but I get thrown out of the story every time he goes into details regarding the cathedral.  Moby Dick, the same way - how much do I really need to know about whaling to get to the story?   Even my own book, The Timepiece Chronicles had to be parred down because I had way to much info about the Revolutionary War to keep kids interested.

The challenge is this:  when we write, we know the story and can see it clearly in our head.  And its usually about a subject we've researched, fallen in love with, and want to share with the world.  This leads to one of two things that can throw the reader out of the story:  1) a lack of detail and a lot of unintended assumptions that the reader knows what we're talking about, or 2) TOO much detail trying to get across absolutely everything.  In either case, the reader stumbles upon something that throws them out of the story, and rather than being an observer to a great adventure they're now an interpreter.  That makes it too much work to read.

Check out KIDLIT.com (the link's to the right) to see more.  It's interesting stuff.  And keep in mind when you're writing that I haven't the foggiest idea what's in your head, so you better tell me.  Just not too much.  ;0)


  1. I think seamless reading is especially hard for those of us who write. I find I notice clunky phrases a lot more often now that I'm deep into editing my own drafts!

    And I find I am more into prose that makes me go "wow" and "cool way of saying that!" and "great description". Does that count as seamless?


  2. Good question, Perri, and an excellent point to bring up. In some ways, being a writer means never really reading the same way again. Just as Perri points out, we're more in-tune with the word usage, metaphors, and ability to describe. In some ways we're looking out for it to see what we can glean. I also had this experience with screenwriting - once I started writing screenplays and really studying them, I began to look at movies very differently. The ones I enjoyed the most were the ones that I didn't pick out the first, second, third act, etc.

    With books, a writer can still enjoy a great novel - in fact, the better the novel the less a writer will get caught up in the story structure, character development, etc. You won't find yourself thinking "hey, that's a great character development tool" unless you're really studying a book. You'll more than likely encounter a "that doesn't seem consistent with the character" moment, which, as I mentioned, takes you out of the story.

    Make sense?


Popular Posts