Today I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about a comment I made yesterday. I was speaking to a friend who has a copy of my ms and I said that I was looking for real readers for my ms. The word REAL made her look questioningly at me as if I thought of her as a ghost. I hadn’t meant to insult her, really, she’s awesome. I spit the foot out of my mouth and said, “What I meant to say was, I’m looking for writers to read over my ms. Writers and readers look at things differently.”
I was wrong to use the word real and I apologized because everyone who puts in the time to read something you’ve created is VERY real. Once I explained and dug myself out of the hole I’d fallen into, she understood what I’d meant. (and she doesn’t hate me. Yay!)
Sometimes—not all the time—people who have never written anything, can tell you that they liked or disliked something, but can’t really tell you why it works or doesn’t work. I find this to be the case with one of my best friends. She’s well-read and reads fast, but at the end of reading my ms, she will say, it was good. Or, I liked it. While those are the things you want to hear, as an aspiring writer, you need more. With my first ms, I was so frustrated with all those comments that I nearly shelved it for good. I didn’t know any other writers at the time, so I really had no clue if what I’d written was actually good or sucked sideways.
Turns out, it sucked. The novel was WAY too long—like almost 500 pages—I know, right! The plot was thin. The protagonist was 17 and I had way too much explicit sex in it to cater to the teen market. And the format was insanely wrong. I’d italicized, bolded, and double indented all the dialogue. *hangs head in shame* Yeah, I did that.
So as I try to rinse the flavor of my shoe out of my mouth, I want to know if you all understand what I’m saying. Do you think there’s a difference between readers and writers when it comes to reading your manuscript? The value is there for both, of course. The average person who buys your novel will be a “reader” so you don’t want to discount your primary readers opinions. But writers look at things differently. We appreciate sentence structure, deep characters and solid plots and we know how to tell you how great that is. Or we can spot the flaws in all three and know how to tell you how to fix it.
I’d love to hear your opinions!