Reading as a Reader or Writer

Recently I was hired to edit a book that had its toes dipped in a few different genres. Both the author and agent were confused as to how to market the book because it really didn’t fit inside just one genre.  I was intrigued.  I sat down with the manuscript and immediately realized that I was going to have to take my editing lens off for the first read through this book. I dove in as a reader.

If you find yourself wondering what I mean, this is an attempt to describe these two forms of conditional reading concerning fiction.

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Reading as a writer can be somewhat overpowering and could even be detrimental to the overall enjoyment of a book. However, it could also give you a whole new perspective on the writing itself and help inspire new ideas.  Reading as a writer can help generate curiosity into new subjects.   When reading as a writer there is an analytical process at work. It focuses on rhythm, characters, dialogue, themes, and heaven help us, even the use of commas.   This can sometimes disrupt the author’s purpose and prevent a reader from really wrapping themselves in the book. But, that is relative to the purpose that the reader has in turning those pages.

Reading as a reader is a much more relaxed approach to a manuscript. The reader is influenced by the emotions and actions of the characters within a story.  Some readers describe this process as suspending reality and fully immersing themselves into the world that an author creates.  This reading style is submissive to the intent of the author. While every reader brings their perspective to a reading experience, it is the reader’s initial intent to be entertained.

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As an editor, I have found that reading a novel as a reader first is the best way to begin the editing process with a new manuscript.  It really assists me in understanding the author’s purpose and I can better hear their voice in the pages.  I would recommend that every editor set the “writer reader” aside on that first read in order to really connect with your writers. This process will help the editor assist the creator in connecting with those “reader readers.”  They are the ones that ultimately buy the books and tell their friends about it.

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