Read Good Books

Fill your mind with effective examples.

The past two weeks I’ve been spending six hours a day editing someone’s novel.

The author’s a solid storyteller, but his mechanics are weak. So I’m taking pains to fix the punctuation on nearly every sentence. And the dialogue attribution. And much of the spelling. Plus some of the verb tenses. I can work no more than an hour at a stretch before I need to give myself a break.

At lunch time and evenings, I’ve made a point to immerse myself in a well-written novel. Last evening I finished reading Keith McCafferty’s Cold Hearted River. It’s in a completely different genre, but also features multiple characters and abundant dialogue.

For me, it wasn’t simply excellent entertainment. I also considered this well-crafted novel a refresher course in the immersive reader experience I’m trying to help my client achieve.

I considered this well-crafted novel a refresher course
in the immersive reader experience
I’m trying to help my client achieve.

Not sure how to punctuate a complex sentence? You could try a grammar book. But why not read a story by a master in your genre? Shaky on how to include the “he said, she said” information seamlessly? Same answer. Ditto for flashbacks and exposition.

With rare exceptions, those who’ve established themselves as masters of their genre know what they’re doing. Each page, top to bottom, brings you examples of successful craft.

If you’re struggling with your own, study today’s best. Or simply read for enjoyment and trust your subconscious to register the details you also should apply.

About Andy Scheer

With more than 30 years in publishing, Andy Scheer has provided freelance editorial services since 2010. He has edited fiction and nonfiction for publishers including Moody, WinePress, and BelieversPress, as well as for clients including Dirk Cussler, McNair Wilson, DiAnn Mills, Heather Day Gilbert, and Sammy Tippit.

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