Writing For The Reader

Yesterday we went for our first extended countryside walk in over two months

[A field of wild poppies, with the Sandy Heath Transmitter in the distance. Photo by me, May 28, 2020.]

…and carefully socially distancing if we saw anyone else, of course.

Meandering the fields and woods, I thought at times… about writing, of course. I decided to rewrite one part of the new manuscript. I have not liked how it is developing.

I had spent years in academia. One of the things that attracted me to writing fiction was I had become tired of merely analyzing and tearing apart what OTHERS had created, which is basically what academics do. I did not want just to research and critique (criticize?) someone else’s work, I wanted to do something myself.

[From my Instagram Stories, May 27, 2020. Working on the book hopefully to come.]

Since then, I have found fiction writing even more appealing and liberating than I had imagined it would be. Indeed it becomes a habit, even a compulsion. Once you start doing it, you cannot stop, drawn into always hoping to craft a “new” sentence, a “new” paragraph, a “new” characterization – something inventive and distinctive from what others write.

In that spirit I like to drop in occasionally to scroll what some of Twitter’s #WritingCommunity authors are asking and thinking about, and I did so again recently:

I do not review books. I write them.

I let others do reviewing.

Regardless of why I bought it, I have never reviewed a book on, for example, Amazon, ever.

1) Chances are your book is not the best thing ever written, but it is almost certainly not anywhere near the worst either. Relax about it.

2) You will get some poor feedback and reviews. Even Ms. Rowling gets poor reviews. Understand there are people out there who would be negative about just about anything they did not create.

3) Yes, there is a risk you will sell fewer than you hope… but lots of good products don’t sell for a myriad of reasons; that doesn’t mean what you wrote is bad. Remember that.

No. Because it is not reading. It is listening.


My opinion: The term “Young Adult” for those books is stupid because their target audience is teenagers under-18.

Under-18s are not “young adults,” they are teenagers. Obviously it was discovered in the publishing biz somewhere by someone(s) along the line at some point that calling them “Teen” books either did, or would, go over like a marketing lead balloon with actual 13-18 year olds: teens would not buy “Teen” books; that was “uncool.”

So “young adult” has been slipped in there, but that misnomer has created other problems – like that issue raised above. In real life an actual “young adult” nowadays is generally an 18-25 year old, or even up to a 30 year old, depending on the context, so there is a bit of a blurry line. Yes, we have also changed socially in 200 years: in 1800, “15 year olds” WERE “young adults” in the US because life expectancy then was on average under age FORTY; today, it is in the upper-70s. Indeed in some ways we now at times actually also infantilize actual YOUNG ADULTS: I still recall thinking of what many an ADULT back in “1800” would have thought as I cringed while reading a New York police spokesperson a few years ago officiously seriously characterizing the sale of alcohol to a 20 year old as selling it to a “child.” (The legal drinking age in the USA is age 21.)

So – to me – someone over “21” is not really right as the main character in a teen “young adult” book because a “21 year old” is, simply, an “adult.” The world would be a lot easier for them all if we who are ADULTS already would stop trying to call teens “young adults” and “young adults” children. No wonder so many 13-21 year olds are often confused about what they are.

Whew, I am forever glad I write books that are simply for ADULTS.

[Excerpt from Frontiers: Atlantic Lives, 1995-1996. On Kindle for iPhone and iPad. Click to expand.]

As to that just above?

We have all heard that saying about… how you will live forever if a writer falls in love with you?

Well, uh, don’t mess with a writer either… or even someone you dumped years before who may decide in the future to become a writer. LOL!

I think we need to be more patient than that, especially if it is a long book.

[From my Instagram Stories, May 27, 2020.]

By “page 50” of War and Peace, or by “page 50” of Herman Wouk’s 1978 classic War and Remembrance (above), the stories are barely warming up:

[From my Instagram Stories, May 26, 2020.]

I’ll grant, though, that if a book of “190 pages” does not capture you by “page 50,” yeh, it is probably never going to do so.

“MC” there is not “Master of Ceremony.” It is writer hip insider shorthand for “main character.” LOL!

My most recent one? He was nearly killed, uh… give me a second while I think on this… at least five times in two novels.

Thank goodness, though, he was not killed… because, well, the books would not have happened.

Usually I more than once read a book I have enjoyed.

I find I see things in a second reading I missed in the first.

My most recent two novels take place in the later 1700s and early 1800s in Europe and America. It is not some fantasy world. It is based on history

[A “France 1800” excerpt from Tomorrow The Grace. On Kindle for iPhone or iPad. Click to expand.]

…so the, err, “deity” thing is pretty much unavoidable.

I read particularly dialogue aloud… because it should not sound like writing.

I have ALWAYS written under a pseudonym. “R.” and “J.” are my real first two initials. “Nello” is not my real surname.

I cannot imagine NOT writing under one. For one, it is freedom. I don’t have to worry about my writing (mostly) impacting my wider life, particularly employment. And it protects the identities of those I have fictionalized in my books.

Saying “both” is something of a cop out. I think you have to come down more on one side or the other.

If we are just going to write for ourselves, we might as well just stick to keeping a diary.

So I lean much more towards writing for readers. I want them to ENJOY what I write. Indeed, I hope they even might lose themselves in it to the point that if someone sneaks up behind them and taps them on a shoulder they are truly startled. LOL!

And, in the end, whether or not we write something that someday academics end up tearing apart and analyzing, we have created something original.

Have a good weekend. 🙂