I have been thinking—dangerous, I know—none the less, I have. And this is what I have come up with:
Rome Was Not Built In A Day
When I’m reading, I have this image in my head—sometimes complete, sometimes not—of the characters, the way they look, the world they live in, and the cadence of their speech. As the story unfolds, I construct. I imagine their actions, their expressions, the rooms or scenery surrounding them, what they’re doing with their hands when they say something, and especially, the way they say said those somethings. (Every reader knows, tone is everything!) So I love it when the author uses meaningful description. i.e., details that would be important to the character.
But because of all this imagery, I tend to read a book at a more relaxed pace than other avid readers I know.
In fact, I am dumbfounded by some of you speed-readers out there. I have never been able to understand how a person can rip through a book in a day and be like, “oh yeah, it was really good.”
What the? Huh?
How in the world can anyone follow that string of words and make sense of them, paint the picture, feel the moments they create, and be done so quickly?
Maybe it’s different for me because I’m a writer and I tend to get stuck on the structure of a single sentence, or pick apart the way a character relays vital plot information. Or sometimes, I have to put the book down because I cannot understand how this imagined person I’m reading about can do what they did and still look at themselves in the mirror.
Yeah, I know they aren’t real people, but for the time that I’m reading, they are.
Reading is an escape. I do it for me and I believe, at least I hope, it makes me a better writer.
Take my first novel, for instance. Between Octobers is my baby. I began writing it around Obama’s first run for the White House. I was entrenched in my manuscript while history was being made.
I was having trouble with structure, how to fit the chain of events together so that the reader would know what my protagonist, Grace, was facing right out of the gate, but I needed the events to be chronological, so everyone would hopefully understand her choices, even if they don’t agree with them.
But I wasn’t able to come up with the right composition until I read my first Nora Roberts novel, Public Secrets. And I can’t say exactly what it was that clicked inside me, but I was able to look at that book that was so unlike mine, and see the way it was brilliantly peppered with suspense, giving just the right amount of tension in all the right places….
And I had my “AH-HA!” moment. Then, I pretty much re-wrote my book.
It is my hope that when all the wonderful readers out there in the ether find my book in cyberspace, that they will take their time reading it, absorb the world that Grace lives in, and take some time to understand her. I think it makes for a better ending when you take your time getting to it.