July 31, 2017 @ 12:31 PM

Seven Sensible Steps to Success as a Writer
Step 6 (continued): Talking it through...

Apart from silent work at the editing desk and reading the pages out loud to yourself, it can often be of help to talk the work through with somebody else whom you trust to give a fair and sympathetic opinion.

Nobody wants flattery: but ridicule or condescension can be fatal to a new-born manuscript.

Some authors, indeed, keep the work entirely to themselves until it is finished. Others (with broader shoulders than mine) belong to writers’ groups who meet regularly to share work in progress, to receive or offer comment and criticism.

Being much more of a loner, I nevertheless ask my wife in the early stages of a book to read the pages almost as they come off the printer, to let me know if the narrative flow and dramatic interest are there – the ‘hook’ implanted, as they say.

I'll bring in the first cup of coffee for the morning, together with another page or two in my hand, and give them to her. ‘What do you think of that, dear?’ And we’ll talk it through.

Jill is my general reader. If she doesn’t understand a passage, other people won't. Though to be sure, there are times when I resist...

'No ... what I was trying to say is ... well, it's clear to me ... oh, I see what you mean...'


As I get more into the book, I’ll generally wait until each chapter is done before giving it to her. But always the point is to listen to honest feedback from an understanding reader: to absorb it, and to make changes where you feel they are needed.

Next: Life in Death…