Tuesday, 26 April 2011
The reader is always right
I've spent Easter in Dublin, basking in sunshine, hanging out with my nieces and nephews, and working on my revisions, based on notes from my editor. And very helpful they were too: specific yet concise and full of great suggestions. I was slightly unsure about a couple of the major ones but I decided to give them a go anyway - purely so that I could say I'd tried, you see. It wouldn't work, but at least I would show willing.
And what do you know? It turns out they DO work, and she was right. This is not just because she's an experienced editor, but because she is the reader, and the reader, like the customer, is always right. If they're bored, or they find Detective X unconvincing, it's not because they weren't reading properly or they don't understand X: it's because you haven't kept them interested, and you haven't fleshed out X enough.
Because I was an editor before I was a writer, people sometimes ask me if I 'resent' being edited - the assumption, I guess, being that I know what I'm doing without any pesky editor interfering. NO. Because I was an editor, I know that the editor is not doing this for their health: they are making your book all better! Or trying to.
The good news is, even if you don't have an editor, you almost certainly will have somewhere in your social or writing circle, a reader. They can sometimes tell you things you don't want to hear, but in my limited experience they are (almost) always right.