So, I’m working on a plot-driven novel rather than a character driven novel. If you’ve ever read one of my books, you’ll know this is the OPPOSITE of what I normally do, but spreading writerly wings, remember?

Anyway. I usually read out loud to Mike just after my first draft, when most of my book is dialogue and slight action.

As we read, I make notes for myself, most of them look like this:


So, when I read out loud, all the lazy writing is slammed in my face. Because that’s what first drafts are for. So, I’m reading this scene and there was grabbing and pulling and tugging, and it was to the point where I began to snorty-laugh every time I saw one of those words, which was kind of a lot.

And then I found THIS:


So, I had to comment to myself for my next run through with this:


I mean, this is okay. For me, the first draft is like a super fat outline–I just want to see if the story I envisioned, works.

So, as I’m reading my rough draft out loud, I also pause and write stuff in ALL CAPS. Things Mike points out, or ideas I want to consider. I’ll realize a small scene is a pivotal one, so I need to flesh it out. Because I draft thin (very often just over half my final word count) I also leave ideas to flesh out the story.

The yelling to myself looks like this:


But man, getting to stop and ask questions as I go because I’m reading out loud to a real person?


Most often the questions are like –

Is this boring? Are you bored? I don’t know if I’m bored because it’s boring or if it’s because I’ve read this too many times… What do you think?

OK. I need you to tell me if this is cool or if this is dumb.

Did you get what was going on there?

Could I say that better? I think I could say that better.

What do you think will happen next?

What do you want to happen next?

Too much information? Not enough?

You might read out loud to a spouse or a friend or sibling or parent. You might ask the questions by trading chapter at a time with a critique group. You might try to find someone who is a reader and not a writer. (There’s NO point in rushing your MS. Everything in publishing takes forever).

Being able to talk through problems, generally leads me to solve the problem on my own, and then I know that I’ll be able to keep the story true to the story I wanted to tell.

(Dear spouses/friends/family/significant others, sorry, but not sorry)


~ Jo






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