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Friday, July 13, 2012

Guest Blog: Pam Stack "From Reader to the Writer"

Today on the blog voracious reader and frequent MRM contributor Pam Stack joins us with an open letter to writers.

I’m an avid reader.  Crazy avid reader.  When I was young, my Mom showed me the value and joy of reading and I’ve been doing it ever since.  I used to read the print on the boxes of cereal (what 7 year old should know about all the junk in cereal?)  But I did.  And that love has taken me on journeys through countries never visited, mystic countries only real in my mind,  given me conversations with the most interesting characters.  I’ve heard beautiful music and seen exquisite art. When I read I have a small movie paying in my mind as words unfold on the pages before me.

Which brings me to the writers of all of these wonderful journeys.  As a reader I want to thank you for helping my brain grow and letting my imagination soar.  However.  Don’t you hate that word?   However, while I support writers and authors of all genres, part of your responsibility to me, the reader, IMHO, is to make my trip the most entertaining it can possibly be.  There are “speed bumps” along the way that detract from the journey.  Not your problem you say?  Yes, it is.  I am your customer.  There is a certain standard by which you are judged by your customer.  So here at some thoughts about those speed bumps.  

Please remember that if you introduce a character, regardless of how insignificant YOU think he/she is, I will remember that character. I may go back pages to remind myself about that character.  If you drop him/her like a lead weight and never mention them again, I am likely to think you’re in the early stages of dementia.  After all, shouldn’t the writer always remember who they write about?  

If you switch your dialogue from past to present and do not explain WHY you are doing that, chances are I will lose some of the richness of your story.  You don’t care?  I won’t either and it is likely that I will not buy your books again.  Consistency has its place in a storyline and since we readers want that consistency, please be kind to us.  

And the now, the speed bump of all speed bumps.  PUNCTUATION.  Lordy lordy, some of you writers have never been introduced to punctuation and some of you love it so much that you use it everywhere.  Do you realize that you change the nuance of dialogue by placement/non-placement of your commas, periods, colons and question marks and those other little delightful “road signs”?  I want to read your story knowing exactly what you meant to write.  It’s not a rap song, unless you meant it to be a rap song and I’m unlikely going to purchase a rap song in book form.  Please – read out loud what you wrote. Does it make sense to you with the  punctuation or lack thereof?   

Thank you, dear writers, for giving me a joy and passion that cannot be duplicated.  We readers want to be invested in your stories as much as you were when you wrote them. Perhaps these little tips might make our mutual trips ever the more pleasurable.  I look forward to the next journey!
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  1. With the massive growth in indie/self e-published titles your comments have particular relevance. The quality of the editing varies widely (some it seems a spell checker was the only editor, and sometimes not even that) and I am very unlikely to give a second chance to an author whose e-book was poorly edited. That said, there are many indie titles that are every bit as professionally done as the regular best sellers.

  2. Pam, well said. That is excellent advice for all writers. I agree. I send my books through rounds of beta readers, and then a copy editor and a proof reader. Not much disturbs me more than finding errors that take me out of a story.

    I would add one thing for all readers. You, the readers, can have a huge impact on the quality of future books by voicing your opinions in reviews. If you found a book rife with errors, tell the author in a review, or if you're not comfortable doing that, with an email. On the flip side, if you enjoy the book, by all means leave a review on your favorite site and tell others about it. Nothing helps new authors more than reviews. It is the only way some of us have to get "visible."

    Thanks again, Pam, for the interesting post.


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