Monday, April 12, 2010
Writer's Mind vs. Reader's Mind
I've been at this writing gig for several years now (like, over 20), so you might think I'd be able to make story decisions easily by now. I'm talking about things like in whose point of view a scene should be, or the order of scenes in a chapter.
Last week I started reading through the beginning of the book in progress, making notes and deciding to rearrange things until I reached the end of the beginning, after I've introduced the major players and some of the problems (and hinted at others). Because I felt the need to have a firmer foundation before carrying on, I've departed from my usual routine of reading and making notes through to the end and started revising/rewriting on the computer, planning to continue until I'm ready to start the revising/rewriting of the middle.
So yesterday, I get to the third scene, finish it, see where I thought I'd go for the next scene, and realized, "Nah." This time, my instincts told me to follow the heroine, even though when I did my read-through, I thought I had good reasons for staying with the hero.
My instincts won out, because I do write a lot by "feel." I suppose I could come up with an analytical reason for that, but here's what I really think "feel" or "instinct" is about when it comes to writing: it's my reader's brain talking. It's the sort of story instinct you get not by writing a lot, or reading about writing, but from reading for pleasure. You absorb what works, and what doesn't. What "feels" right, and what doesn't, at least to you.
It's still a little disconcerting to think I've made a decision only to have my instincts say no. And sometimes, it isn't easy to decide what to do, because there are merits to either choice you can make. But when it comes right down to it, I give my instincts priority, because it is my reader's mind talking. Since I'm writing for readers, who better to listen to?