Thursday, November 12, 2009

Will Your Reader Reach The Summit?

Just a quick post this week because I'm preparing to do a talk at Kendal Writers' Group tonight. Here's a picture taken on Monday in the Lake District (the weather was like this on Wednesday too!)

Standing at the top of Wetherlam (2,502 feet above sea level) I could see far and wide. I had a complete overview of my surrounding area - the northern Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales, Morecombe Bay and in the very distance, Scotland. Height helps us put things into perspective.

I'm currently re-reading my novel and because I haven't looked at it for about a year, it's like standing at the summit of Wetherlam. Suddenly, I'm rediscovering the journey to the summit and getting a 'feel' for my surroundings. Already I've deleted passages that take readers along the wrong path and hinder them from their journey. Our writing should always push the reader forward (whether it is fiction or non-fiction). If we're giving the reader information they don't need to know, we're merely sending them in the wrong direction, which not only wastes time, but it can be so infuriating it causes the reader to abandon the journey altogether. Not what we want!

So, when you have a few spare moments, have a rummage in your notebooks or on your computer and dig out something you wrote a long time ago. Re-read it. Does it still achieve what you wanted it to when you wrote it originally? If it doesn't, cut out the dead-end paths and make the journey more direct for your reader. You'll find your work will be tighter, easier to read, informative and more authoritative.

Good Luck (with your writing ... and the weather!)