Back from a month on the East Coast, I'm realizing that the best part of vacation, writing-wise, was not that I kept my goal of writing a chapter a week of my WIP. I am happy about that, but I'm thrilled about some of the most important writers and readers in my life, my niece and nephew, ages six and eight.
My niece narrated a dynamite story about an alligator while I transcribed. Over a few days she adjusted words, deleted sentences, thought about it, and edited more. My nephew corrected the dialogue attributed to him. He also asked that I read him one of my WIP's before bed. I was nervous because the in-process novel wasn't polished. But he was the best audience. He kept asking for more and had questions about the characters and the plot and he offered new ideas.
The process of reading my WIP aloud was fantastic. I got an immediate sense of what to cut and how to clarify and where I needed more. I made the extemporaneous changes verbally and they've been easy to remember, because now when I edit I go more slowly, even read aloud, all the time thinking of my discriminating nephew. Remembering his voice has become my best editor.
What I learned on my summer vacation... that we all have stories in us, that our writing is meant to be shared, and that the best editor is our audience.
Do you read your work aloud? Who are your editors?
(PS - Thank you, Heather Kelly, writing partner extraordinaire who blogged about our vaca reunion in Cambridge. Funny going to a post and finding one's own face there. A huge cheer for partners!)
3 hours ago