Thursday, 12 November 2009

Will Your Reader Reach The Summit?

Just a quick post this week because I'm preparing to do a talk at Kendal Writers' Group tonight. Here's a picture taken on Monday in the Lake District (the weather was like this on Wednesday too!)

Standing at the top of Wetherlam (2,502 feet above sea level) I could see far and wide. I had a complete overview of my surrounding area - the northern Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales, Morecombe Bay and in the very distance, Scotland. Height helps us put things into perspective.

I'm currently re-reading my novel and because I haven't looked at it for about a year, it's like standing at the summit of Wetherlam. Suddenly, I'm rediscovering the journey to the summit and getting a 'feel' for my surroundings. Already I've deleted passages that take readers along the wrong path and hinder them from their journey. Our writing should always push the reader forward (whether it is fiction or non-fiction). If we're giving the reader information they don't need to know, we're merely sending them in the wrong direction, which not only wastes time, but it can be so infuriating it causes the reader to abandon the journey altogether. Not what we want!

So, when you have a few spare moments, have a rummage in your notebooks or on your computer and dig out something you wrote a long time ago. Re-read it. Does it still achieve what you wanted it to when you wrote it originally? If it doesn't, cut out the dead-end paths and make the journey more direct for your reader. You'll find your work will be tighter, easier to read, informative and more authoritative.

Good Luck (with your writing ... and the weather!)


  1. Reminds me - when I was struggling up the Alicante mountains the other week a fellow sufferer, sorry walker, produced some Kendal Mint Cake. We decided it needed a makeover for the 21st century so we have rebranded it 'KMC'

    Anyway - great photo but you are supposed to be editing!

    PS I have seen the 'New Writer' thanks from the blog consultant.

  2. A great post Simon. I shall be doing just that soon with Red Kite when I am on retreat. Not looked at it for over 6 months so hope to have some inspiration.
    Good luck with yours, the photo was brilliant.

  3. Beautiful view - what camera do you use, Simon?

    I recently dug out some fiction which I'd written at least 10 years ago. I might have set it aside for a tad too long, but it was a good exercise. Some will definitely be developed into pieces worth submitting (hopefully!).

    Hope the talk went well!

  4. I've been going through old stories lately too, reworking them. I cut out huge chunks, and also have to write new bits.
    Lovely analogy,Simon. And another great photo. Any more to show us from that day? I've only just discovered that by clicking on your photo, I can enlarge it

  5. Hello everyone!

    Firstly, Rob - I am editing, but when you have weather like that in the Lake District, the outside takes priority! It's one of the reasons I came up to the Lakes now - when the days are shorter. When it's sunny, I can have a few hours fun and still spend a lot of the day doing the work!

    Di, enjoy the retreat - what am I saying? I know you will. Especially if it has a log fire!

    Helen, I do have an professional camera - it's a Canon 5D Mark II, but taking good pictures is all about what your point your camera at, not what electronics it has inside!

    Glad you liked the piccy Glynis - I do have more, but here in the Lakes I'm on such a slow internet connection it takes about half a day to upload one picture!

    The talk at Kendal went well, a great group and very friendly.



  6. "Helen, I do have an professional camera - it's a Canon 5D Mark II, but taking good pictures is all about what your point your camera at, not what electronics it has inside!"

    That's so true! I sell my landscape images and know that the luck of the light makes all the difference too.