richard harland's writing tips

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Good Writing Habits
 

Other Good Writing Habits Topics

 

1. Preparation

2.Writing Through


 

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3. Feedback & Revision

 

(i) YOUR READERS ARE YOUR NOVEL

 

Genre fiction is built upon reader reactions. Whether it’s shock, horror, laughter, grief, suspense, the emotion isn’t there in the words alone, but in the meeting between reader and words. Perhaps a literary novel can be beautiful solely for its language, perhaps a purely realistic novel can ask nothing from the reader except a capacity to observe. But genre fiction has to reckon with, and cooperate with, the reader’s capacity to feel.

So it’s no use saying ‘But there is suspense in that scene, because I put it there.’ Sorry. If your readers aren’t experiencing it, it isn’t there. The reader completes the circuit—or not. If not, then the failure is yours.

Of course, every individual reader’s capacity to feel is different. When you look for feedback, you wouldn’t want to trust to the response of just one reader. All kinds of accidental inputs can influence a single reading. But if you’re hearing the same response from more than one reader, you need to act on it.

10 readeers

I have a Ten Sample Readers policy. I try to get ten readers to give me feedback on an MS, preferably readers who belong to the category of readership I’m aiming at. If two or three readers out of ten are dissatisfied with some aspect of the novel, that’s too many. Or one editor and one reader … The only time I’d ever doubt an editor’s advice is if every single sample reader felt and said the opposite.

 

OTHER FEEDBACK & REVISION TOPICS

 

(ii) FEEDBACK FROM ORDINARY READERS

(iii) FEEDBACK FROM OTHER WRITERS

(iv) FEEDBACK FROM EDITORS

(v) RE-PRIORITISING

(vi) TAKE CHANGES ON BOARD

(vii) REVISION THAT ESCALATES

(viii) KILLING YOUR DARLINGS

(ix) AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT

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Copyright note: all material on this website is (c) Richard Harland, 2009-10
 
 
Copyright note: all written material on this website is copyright
1997 - 2010 Richard Harland.