Wednesday, July 5, 2017


Rule #1 - Shut up and listen. Don't guide your reader through the piece. Your writing is a little brain-baby that needs to leave the nest and survive on its own. If it gets eaten by the predators incomprehensibility or pomposity, then let it die and try again. (Just like you would with real babies)
  1. Ask your reader to tell you what your piece is about. 
    • This is when you will find out that your characters sound so alike that they are getting confused for each other. (Was there one cousin or two?... Ah, there were no cousins? I didn't get that at all)
    • Don't be afraid to:
      • Be more explicit than you think you need to
      • Ditch the idea that your short story is secretly a critique of misogyny in70's war films. It isn't. 
  2. Ask your reader to tell you what they liked and why.
    • This is when you find out that the ending you spent a year on is actually less effective than the tiny human moment you half-stole from an over heard conversation. This is also when you will discover that your reader is a moron, you are not as good as you thought, and you will need to start over. 
    • Don't be afraid to:
      • Start over
      • Abandon that part you really like
      • Disagree secretly with your reader
      • Disagree openly with your reader 
      • Find new friends
  3. Ask your reader to tell you what they hated and why.
    • This is when you find out what you will obsess over in bed for the next week. 
    • Don't be afraid to:
      • Build a new piece based on what worked
      • Try it again without that part you really liked
      • Abandon the idea that the entire work was based on
  4. (IMPORTANT) Ask your reader what their favorite part was.
    • This is when I have learned the most about my own abilities. So far, my readers' favorite section has never been something I expect. The answer to this request is usually a sneaky little moment between characters, a human interaction that makes them smile in recognition or anticipation. 
                    ^^^This is where my focus needs to be. I often write about difficult ideas or outrageous moments, but what readers seem to latch on to, what they seem to crave, are those instants when the writer cuts deep and exposes a human interaction, a flash of feeling, an uncomfortable yet realistic and recognizable reaction. 

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