I write a lot of different kinds of short stories and flash fiction, but when it comes to novels, I’ve pretty much kept my train on the adventure/mystery track. It’s my comfort zone and the place I run to for longer works.
But I’m stepping out of my comfort zone with my latest work in progress. I’m taking on the challenge of a new-to-me genre.
When I say new-to-me, I don’t mean as a reader, but as a writer. I’ve read plenty of fantasies over the years and am currently reading a wonderful series by Northern Ireland author Stephen Black. As I eagerly await his third book (in edits as we speak), I figured it might be a good time to try my hand at the genre as well.
It has been a tremendous learning experience already.
Everyone loves a good fight, and a good fight scene is arguably the lifeblood of every thriller. Since my writing partner, Jay Holmes, is a forty-five-year veteran of the military and intelligence communities, we are often asked what weapons we prefer for fights.
In truth, Holmes and I both advocate firearms training for the best self-defense, but shooting too many people in books tends to make for boring books. So we’re going to explore a bit more about how common objects can be used in a fight scene.
The alternate title for this post could have been “How I Found My Publisher Through Rejection.”
In 2015 I wrote a YA Thriller focused around the kidnapping of teen characters involved in the theater. I researched thoroughly, interviewed detectives, and hired an editor who helped me through to the end. I queried and waited and heard…. Crickets.
Kind editors and agents responded with honest feedback or simply said it wasn’t for them. I analyzed and discovered ways to ‘fix’ the novel: rewrite the first five pages, fix weak plot holes, revise characters to enhance the premise and elevate the intrigue. But I couldn’t.
Completing the novel got me across the finish line, but it didn’t mean my novel was done. For over a year, I had spent my writing mojo in some very dark territory and I didn’t have the motivation to dig into it more. The only shelf that manuscript would sit on is in my closet.
Readability is a critical part of editing that doesn’t get a lot of attention. Whether we’re imparting instructional analysis or immersing readers in elaborate fantasy worlds, knowing our audience’s preferred reading level is key.
What is readability?
Readability formulas are calculations which are written to assess the reading level necessary for the reader to understand your writing easily. Readability refers to how easy and enjoyable your writing is for the reader.
Good readability can make a reader quit in paragraph 1 or race through the whole story, so consider readability to make your work sparkle for readers.
Writers Rock When They Meet Reader Expectations
Readability grade level testing is common in elementary schools to categorize books. Length of sentence and the complexity of the words are measured, but grade-level appropriateness does not mean what age a person has to be to read it. Adults use preferred readability levels with different types of text.
Writers benefit from aiming at those levels and better engage their readers, but what age level should a writer use?