Reading Your Own Writing.
I have mentioned many times recently how I have lacked the concentration to read this year. Since January 2020, I have started three books, bought seven more for my Kindle, and two paperbacks. And I have not finished reading a single one. I am hoping that my desire for reading will come back soon.
However, I have been reading my own fiction. Ever since I started to feel ill three weeks ago, accompanied by the constant rain that stopped me wanting to venture out any more than I had to, I have been revisiting my own fiction from a different prespective. I have approached it as a reader, not the author. Some of my earlier short stories could do with better development, but I am happy with how I progressed with those, especially the series of photo-prompts.
I went back over some of my better serials, reading them first as a serial in parts, then as the ‘complete story’, in one go. When writing them, I read them constantly. I edit as I go, read the edit, and then read the whole thing before pressing ‘Publish’. But I read it as a writer; looking for errors, duplication of words or phrases, incorrect character names, and so on.
I have never read it as a reader, coming to it fresh.
I soon came to the conclusion that I don’t think they work as well as a complete story. They are written to be read in parts, and that seems to jar when getting through around 30,000 words. Although I am happy to compile them for readers who prefer that, I definitely think they read better as a serial, and flow better too.
Some of my serial fiction has complex structure, as in ‘The Old Remington’, where the events of one day change the past the next morning. Or ‘Little Annie’, which was told backwards from the ending. Two serials are very personal to me. ‘Benny Goes Bust’, which has a lot of ever so slightly altered details of my own life woven in, and ‘Vera’s Life’, based on the true story of my family and their neighbours during WW2.
But after a few weeks or reading my own stuff as a ‘reader’, I have decided that ‘The River’ might be my best work so far. Not only did I manage to tackle a setting in small town America, but it also stretched over a period exceeding twenty years. Without sounding boastful, and having just read the whole thing again yesterday, I reckon that one is pretty good.
If I say so myself.