My Notes & Marks includes notes labeled, ‘too much backstory’ and ‘do I need this scene?’
I have been using my eReader for some time to read stories to me. I really don’t mind the electronic voice if it allows me to experience more novels than I could otherwise squeeze into my crazy schedule. But lately I’ve been using my eReader to help me with my works in progress.
Here’s How: I email my story as a document to my eReader address and open it as a document. Then I use the Read Aloud function to listen to my second draft.
Here’s Why: Despite cringing at missing words and incorrect verb tense and a myriad of other minutiae, the Read Aloud function lets me hear some big picture items without getting sidetracked with fixing trivialities
The False Start – While listening, I can more easily spot where the story or chapter or scene really begins, in other words, where the writing gets interesting. I often unintentionally do some “throat clearing” before I get rolling, especially on a new story as I get to know the setting, characters and conflict. There can be a pile of backstory in these pages and all of that has to go. Nobody cares about backstory until they are vested in the characters. So spotting these information dumps and making a note to myself regarding their elimination helps me create a fast read.
I’m Boring Myself – If my mind wanders or worse still, if I fall asleep while listening, I have a waving red flag that the reader will check out as well. My eReader helps me find those places.
Setting – It’s easier for me to notice when I have too many scenes set in the same location while listening and also to discover places where I have not done enough to help the reader experience the setting.
Weak Openings, Feeble Hooks – Did my opening grab me and do my hooks drag me into the next chapter?
Repeats of Ideas, Backstory or other things – Readers are smart and they have very good memories, so once is enough.
Unnatural Dialogue – Hearing the characters helps me see if their conversations sound natural or forced and if the characters have different styles of speech.
Timeline: It’s always nice to notice if your story has a week has no Wednesday and no weekend or if you have the characters eating second breakfast like hobbits. Listening helps me here as well.
Here’s Help: I mark places that need addressing with the Notes function which does stop the Read Aloud function, so I only use it for big things, which again keeps me from miring in details. I’m in the middle of such a read right now for a draft of a paranormal romance for Nocturne, but I took a little break to share something that works for me.