Last week I posted on the attention deficit disorder of so many modern readers, myself no less than anyone. I like to read. Yes, I do. I like to be swept away. But....
But, but, but. I'm busy, and every day there are demands placed on me from all sides, and every day there are a thousand things I should be doing besides reading. So it's gotta be story, I said - all story, and nothin' but.
I've been thinking more about this attention problem, and I've discovered this obvious fact: I will be a more successful writer when I condition myself to think more like an impatient reader while actually engaged in writing.
I dislike reading long sentences and tedious paragraphs. Therefore, I must remember not to write that way.
I prefer to read books with lots of "white space" and chapters of ten pages or less. So, I should write that way as well.
What else do I like to find in books? And more importantly with respect to my own writing, will I remember to include these kinds of things in my stories?
I like heroes and justice and happy endings. I like an element of mystery and a satisfying conclusion. I like language and style, too, but not when I feel the writer is showing off, and never in the absence of a good story.
And... what do I hate to find in books? I hate, hate, hate when the bad guys win. I have no patience for desciptions of machines and how they work. I despise writers who use their characters as mouthpieces for their political views. I dislike loose ends. I really dislike arrogant protagonists.
So when writing, I need to be mindful of the things I'm prone to include, but that might turn readers off.
I admit that it's not my habit to write like I read. But without a doubt, my writing will be better if I do, and I suspect this is true for other writers, as well. Think of the question like this: would you want to read your own book? If your answer is anything but an enthusiastic YES, then you need to think more like a reader.