The Critical Read

A key part of the writing process–a very critical part for me (no pun intended), certainly–is the critical read.

A critical read is when you sit down with your novel in one hand and a red pen in the other and read it cover to cover in a relatively short time. Pretending that you didn’t write it. Looking for every possible shortcoming, plot weakness, inconsistency, and problem. Along with all the places that the writing could be improved (although that’s not the focus on the 1st rewrite). You don’t FIX everything, just NOTE everything.

It took me a lot longer than I expected to incorporate all the changes, suggestions, etc. into a single draft, convert everything to black so I wouldn’t have to pay $1/page to get it printed out, and get a clean copy. So I didn’t start the critical read until yesterday.

When I went looking for a red pen to get started, I found a green one there in my drawer. I thought it might be a sign that I should pretend I was SusanH as I was reading the draft. Gave me the willies for a moment. But I couldn’t find a purple pen, so I decided it was mere coincidence. Whew.

I started The Adventures of Sir Kay (I’m going to have to come up with a better title pretty soon) back at the end of June, 2013. I was posting Chapters 16, 17, somewhere around there, of Avalon, S.C. on my blog for you to read. Yeah, that long ago. That’s about how long it’s been since I read the opening chapters.

Now matter how fresh you try to keep things in your mind, June was a long time ago. Reading a novel in a few days is a much different experience than reading it over 8 months as you write it. For one thing, the flow is VERY different than you think it is.

In a very telling introduction to Buffalo Girls (as I remember it), Larry McMurtry noted that as a writer, you spend an inordinate amount of time reading the words of the same author–yourself. And after a while, it all seems stale. But I am happy to report, that is NOT my experience as a writer so far. And it certainly hasn’t been true for Sir Kay.

One of the very, very best things that happens to a writer is when you read something that you wrote a while ago and it delights you all over again. So far, that’s been my experience with Sir Kay. There are obvious holes, and things that need quite a bit of work. But there are also those moments of joy when something that I wrote several months ago makes me laugh out loud.

And the conversation between two middle-age geeks when he meets his lady love the first time . . . ah. Sigh.

And falling for Oswald all over again.

It’s been a fun couple of days so far. And unlike the unfortunate Sir Kay, who got to sampe the delights of kaffka when Merlin brought some back from the Middle East but it’s long since gone, I get to drink coffee as I read.

I’m still a couple of weeks from beginning to post. Maybe the week of Feb 24th. I’ll keep you posted.



3 thoughts on “The Critical Read

  1. LOL! I wondered too if you’d be put off by that Susan! Been so busy with juggling moving and homeschooling that my own novel has gone by the wayside. Not a day goes by that I don’t want to pick it up again. Things have started to slow down a bit I might even be able to work on it today! (crossing fingers)

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