While editing, yes, be the "editor," but also be the "reader." What do you, as reader, think of the story?
When I teach Writing for the Media, I talk a lot about audience. It's the first thing we talk about at the start of the semester, and as we move through our writing projects - traditional news stories, features, radio and TV commercial scripts, and mini advertising and public relations campaigns - I sprinkle audience across each project. From the pre-writing, research, legwork phases of their projects to the revising and editing, the students keep their focus on audience. Like I tell my students, we live in a fast-paced, technological society, and readers can go to any number of outlets - offline and online - to receive information. What are you going to do to make sure readers are reading you? If the students aren't focused on their readers, those readers will definitely not be focused on them.
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Fiction writers are no different. We have to think about our audience, too. We might start out writing the story that only we can tell, writing the story that matters to us, but ultimately, consideration of our readers should come into play. The best place for that to occur is in the editing phases. I mean, let's be honest. It's hard enough fighting with the voices in our own head during the writing of a novel. The fewer voices involved in the actual writing process, not including those lovely characters, the better.
Writers often think about the audience after a story is written, and many of them focus on the audience when developing their marketing and public relations plans for the story. This is important because in the developing of a plan, writers are defining their audience and researching where this audience congregates - offline and online - so that they can reach them.
We should, however, be thinking about our readers beyond being able to pitch a book to them. A great marketing plan will do nothing for a book that doesn't consider the reader's needs in actually enjoying the book.
We spend months, maybe even years as the writer, crafting the story.
We move into our role as self-editor to revise and clean up the story. We further develop the story's content, making sure all elements of the story are sound. We comb through the story to make sure grammar and mechanics and structure are clean and consistent throughout the story.
Once we have that copy we believe sings off the page, it's a good idea to now become the reader.
You, the writer, love the story. You, as self-editor, think the story works. But what does the reader think? Who would read this story? What would they need to know about your characters, about the setting, about background information, etc. for the story to sing off the page to them?
The story we love as writer and self-editor might become, when in our role as reader, a story that could be even better with exposition trimming and scene development.
How often do you think of the reader during your editing process?
|Shon Bacon is an author, editor, and educator, whose biggest joys are writing and helping others develop their craft. She has published both creatively and academically and interviews women writers on her popular blog ChickLitGurrl: high on LATTES & WRITING. You can learn more about Shon's writings at her author website, and you can get information about her editorial services and online programs at CLG Entertainment.|