Day 97: What a reader doesn’t know

I’m pretty passionate about the writing process (in case that wasn’t abundantly obvious), so I write about it a lot, and talk about it even more, to writers and non-writers alike. What’s cool is that non-writers tell me they never knew so much thought and work went into writing a book. Often I hear that they if they thought about it at all, they thought a writer just… wrote. Now they want to look out for certain things when they read, and they more readily appreciate how an author must’ve thought about putting their story together. Forget cool; that’s awesome!

It got me thinking though about how much work does go on into writing a book, and how little the reader knows about it. And isn’t that how it should be? Shouldn’t the writing be tight enough and seemingly effortless enough that the reader doesn’t see all the work and thought processes that came first? It’s like a gymnast. They can spin and twirl around the rings like it’s nothing and we never – unless we watch some documentary or something – see all the work and practice they put into getting those moves flawless.

If a book is well written, all the reader sees is the final product. They don’t see how you changed one character’s name so it doesn’t sound too much like another; how you rephrased that bit of description so it better fits the POV (point of view) you’re writing from; how you wrote page after page of character description and background so you know all your characters as well as your friends, whether they’re main characters or not; and how you rewrote the same scene, over and over again, searching for the perfect phrases to get across the horror of the moment, and how that made you feel to revisit that horror through the rewrites. Writing is rarely effortless but all the work and the occasional discomfort that goes into telling, cleaning up, and tightening up a story, is so, so worth it, and so, so necessary.

The reader doesn’t usually see all that so it’s cool to share it with them so they can better appreciate what went into whatever book they just finished reading and loved.

On that note, no new words, but I did spend part of yesterday mapping out my characters. Those pages and pages of character description and background I just mentioned? It’s time I revisit them and start adding on. I have one fairly main character who is very important to my MC (main character) and yet I don’t even know her name, only her relationship to my MC. That’s really, really weird given that I had most of my characters names nailed down 10 months ago. I’ve got a block on her and until I start forcing myself to writing her a little more deeply – she’s only been a character sketch in the scenes I’ve written her in so far – I won’t figure out what the block is.

Okay. Now it’s off to bed for my sore feet and me. (I love festivals but whew, they’re hard on your feet!) Night, all!

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About thewritingblues

I'm a writer working on a YA dystopian novel and blogging on my progress - or lack thereof - and other cool writing stuff.
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2 Responses to Day 97: What a reader doesn’t know

  1. katkasia says:

    You’re right – there is a lot of slog behind the scenes! But then, that’s true of most things in life, I think. When I was dancing, we’d rehearse all year for a 3 minute spot – not including all the time it took to make costumes etc! Nuts, but you couldn’t do that 3 minutes professionally without the work.

    The style comes from making it look effortless.

  2. thewritingblues says:

    I like what you said here, “The style comes from making it look effortless.” That’s an interesting way of phrasing it and I’m going to be turning it over in my head for awhile.

    Yes, I can imagine the amount of practice and refinement that goes into a dance routine, although I can honestly say, I wouldn’t have guessed that a 3-minute routine would get a full year’s worth of rehearsals. That’s crazy but I’m guessing – having never danced except for fun – that that amazingly long practice period made the routine almost second-nature to the dancer, so that all the audience would see is the perfection of the moment and the movements.

    Great analogy!

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