Friday, September 30, 2011
How E-Readers Have Improved Our Writing
Clearly, the sales of over one million Kindles during the holiday season last year proved that people are reading e-books. At last, my pitiful royalty checks have grown into something worth bragging about, and I'm stimulated to write and publish more. The old stigma about self-publishing has faded with the appearance of so many pre-contracted authors striking out on their own. I hope to join them before long but I wouldn't trade my contracted experiences for anything. Listing all the things I've learned would take an entire page.
My first editorial session in my debut novel focused on passive voice, historical facts, showing versus telling, and punctuation. Although at the time, the term "show versus tell" wasn't used, I certainly learned the difference. I was encouraged to make a great story into an even better novel by including the reader in each scene. I'd been a "reader" for years, but I never put two and two together to figure out what constituted a great book for me. If I heaved a contented sigh at the end, then the novel was a keeper. *lol*
Through the years and many more editorial sessions, I've discovered numerous facets that create a great read, but with Kindle offering a generous sample of the story, authors should have figured out by now that they'd better write an engaging first chapter to hook the reader into wanting more. Sales can be made or lost in just a few opening paragraphs, so I'm concentrating on that fact in any new or revised work that I present.
To give you an example, here's a major revision to a book that I'm working on now for re-release:
PRESENT Version: Each time she shifted her weight, the cold, white paper covering the examining table cracked. She chewed her bottom lip, reached around, and pulled the flimsy plastic gown around her bare behind. ... (after three pages) She heaved a huge sigh, trying to ignore the voice in her head that told her if she took all the pills at once her problems would be over.
NEW Version: The nagging voice in Cassie Fremont's head urged her to end it all. She sighed and shifted her weight, crinkling the cold, white paper covering the examining table. Perhaps this overdue visit to see Doctor Owens would restore some sanity to her life. She shook her head to clear her suicidal thoughts and shivered beneath the overhead vent.
Why a complete examination? She only needed medication to fight her depression. It was just like her long-time physician to be thorough. Cassie chewed her bottom lip, reached around and tugged the flimsy plastic gown around her bare behind. What was taking the man so long, and why was the air-conditioning set so damned high?
My thoughts: In my opinion, I've set a desperate scene that drove the woman to see a doctor. Rather than have the reader sift through three pages to find out this fact, I've moved it up to create tension and curiosity. What made her depressed? Why is she contemplating something as serious as suicide? I'll make many more improvements before I'm finished, but armed with what I've learned and now recognize as necessary in an award-winning novel, I intend to be a contender.