How’s it going? It’s been an eventful last couple days.
Mom got stranded at Wal-Mart with a truck that wouldn’t start. As we tried to figure out how to lend a hand (without a second vehicle), it was suggested to me by a trusted source to get hold of the symphony’s concert master (a girl my brother knows–I’d had no luck getting in touch with the symphony’s business manager, and both Mom and my brother needed a ride back home).
The phone rang about four or five times, and the concert master picked up. One of the first things she asked, after I said who I was, was:
“How did you get my number?”
Yeah, not somewhere I ever want to be again, for a lot of reasons. I went with the truth–I used Google to find the place where she tutors music students. The contact page had her phone number.
“Oh, that’s good,” she said.
Which got me thinking…
There are some times as a writer (emails, fiction, what-have-ya) you’ve experienced that type of dread, or uncertainty. The kind where you don’t know what’s going on, what to do next, or how to fix things.
That’s when readers somehow get stuck–or are left wondering what the heck is going on and why. Maybe your plan got turned on its head, or what you tried didn’t work as well as you thought.
What’s the solution? Having someone you trust read it is the obvious one (before that thing pops out into the world and maybe messes up some readers).
If that confused reader is your beta reader, it may be time to get a critique, or dig deep for editing or revising. A powerful technique is to let the manuscript rest and work on something else before you go back and revise it yourself.
Or maybe you need to be more clear on what your characters want, and why, so that comes across more clearly to readers. (I’ve found out the hard way if it’s clear to the writer, it’s not necessarily so for readers–by a long shot).
Getting ideas across from a writer’s brain to a reader’s is hard work, usually. Which is why editors, proofreaders, ghostwriters, beta readers, critique groups, and more popped up in the industry–good people for writers to turn to (again, usually) and get feedback to make their work stronger.
The best feedback will involve specific answers to specific questions.
My point here is that lost readers and confused writers have horrible feelings in common that really do need to be solved–with practical solutions.
The rest of the story is that everything is fine now–the concert master was able to talk to the symphony conductor, who got both Mom and my brother back home.
And the truck is now fixed.
So, if you get stuck in your writing, and character or prospect fix-ups, or editing don’t get you where you want to be, turn to your network (critique group, trusted friend, what-have-ya). If you don’t have one, do your best to find one. If they’re writers, ask them specific questions; if they’re not, ask them more specific questions (both in the amount of specifics you give and the amount of questions you ask).
And the same goes for a copy critique–although for longer pieces, I’ve heard that the real lead or headline can get buried under a lot of rambling at the beginning.
That’s it for today. Make it a good one.
Until next time,