“Look Inside”

As my eyeballs were about to fall out of my head from plowing through my soon to be new novel searching for the likes of where I had somehow omitted “an” from a sentence, lifting my head up out of my last edits hole and taking a break, and having a social media browse on Instagram and Twitter, on the latter I saw this…

Which indeed led me to have a look. I followed the link in the tweet. Curious, I headed to have a “peek” at the opening to Barbara’s Postscript novel:

[Amazon’s “Look Inside.” Barbara Avon: Postscript.]

Seeing that led me to have a think about “looking inside.” I had quick “looks inside” afterwards at books by several writers I know better. A couple of examples.

First, here is Delphine Woods‘ latest:

[Amazon’s “Look Inside.” Delphine Woods: The Cradle Breaker: A Victorian Mystery-Thriller (Convenient Women Collection Book 1).]

And Eric Keegan’s debut:

[Amazon’s “Look Inside.” Eric Keegan: The Dioramist.]

Oh, and this one is probably already vaguely familiar to you. I know him best of all:

[Amazon’s “Look Inside.” Someone you know already: Conventions: The Garden At Paris.]

Those are all Kindle versions too. Amazon’s “Look Inside” for a free sample is to me, as a potential book buyer, more important than reviews which may be “gamed” perhaps. It is the actual writing visible on the net for anyone who cares to have a browse.

And I find it indispensable. It is really the electronic equivalent of standing in a book shop and having a thumb through a paperback you have just pulled off the shelf.

[On my desk. Photo by me, 2019.]

The Kindle has I suspect changed writing in a way too. It is representative of our “new tech world.” It has I know impacted my style and I admit it: I wrote this in a long ago January 2015 post of a conversation I had had with my then university student eldest nephew:

…In my writing, I said, I try to take into account what may be a “short attention span” among some readers. So I deliberately compose short, tight paragraphs. I aim for no more than about five sentences, tops.

“I’ve noticed that,” my nephew replied, having read my first novel.

“But I also want depth and nuance. It’s a heckuva balancing act. Write too wordily, try to say too much, and you’ll lose your readers,” I related. “It’s a shame, because some things do take more than a few sentences to describe properly. A well-written descriptive paragraph is like a beautiful painting.”

Why that “short attention span” at times? We all suffer from it occasionally. Last night we were watching another episode of Sky’s/HBO’s Catherine The Great mini-series, which stars Helen Mirren. Having downloaded it, there were no commercial breaks… and I found that, with no breaks, I had actually put my phone down for the hour while watching it. LOL!

We do indeed live in a world now where we watch television while holding our smartphones and scrolling social media during ad breaks. Don’t deny it. I’m sure you do it too. 😉

The way we write I think has to acknowledge that fact. As writers we do have to nod to the reality that many – probably most – readers now read books differently than was the norm in the past. They are not in a favorite chair before a roaring fireplace undisturbed while immersed in that single leather volume in their lap…

They are probably doing “a variety” of things all at once: Reclining on the sofa after having gotten home an hour ago, her notifications on the phone next to her are buzzing while she is searching on the iPad for that TV program’s episode she missed so she can download it. The cat now wants to go out. The pain in the neck boyfriend has unexpectedly pulled up outside. The laundry needs to be unloaded… and, God, she forgot… in the kitchen… is that burning she smells? and, oh, she had also been trying to relax and read more of that new book she just got on her Kindle…

Have a good day, wherever you are. 🙂