A V-formation flock of geese seems to have one member of the group as the leader, but each member takes its turn at the point of the V, leading the way as the others in the formation honk in encouragement. The geese stay together, even when one becomes sick or injured; the group stays with it until it is well enough to continue the journey at its regular pace.
Thursday, September 11, 2014
Don't you hate it when you're reading and something happens
to grind the story to a halt?I don't
mean those annoying phone calls, household interruptions, or any kind of
external demand that has the reader reluctantly setting the book down. The stop
I'm referring to is something in the book that diverts the reader's attention
from the story.
The most common stops these days are caused by poor or no
copy editing.Self published bookshave a bad reputation for spelling, grammar,
and other assorted copy errors, but they're not alone.Most of us can skim over an occasional such
error, but more than a few and the spellis broken, the story loses its luster.Concentration is broken.
The success of a book is measured to a great extent by how
well it can maintain an illusory world, an alternate reality for the reader. When
the illusion is broken and the reader's attention is diverted to something else
the story becomes less satisfactory.
Typos and writing errors are not the only stops that
diminish the reading experience.Poor
research is a killer.Facts concerning
history or geography matter.I recently
read a book that placed a particular group of buildings I happen to know well, in
the wrong town.
Lately there seems to be a competition to see who can invent
the most weird names for their characters.That's fine if the names are pronounceable, but if they're just cutesy
versions of better known names, or words I have to stumble over each time they
appear in print, there goes the alternate reality while I stumble over how to
pronounce the jumble of letters. It's understandable that writers want to give
their characters distinctive names, but there's a difference between
distinctive and mumbo jumbo.
While we're reading through our manuscripts for a final
check before submission, it would be wise to check for stops.If beta readers have to ask how to pronounce
a name, it's the wrong name.Beta
readers should make note of anything that causes their minds to wander or
distracts from the flow of the story.It's
important to keep errors to a minimum, but it's also important to just plain
eliminate those annoyances that bring our stories to a crashing halt.