Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Rereading what you wrote


I love nothing more than a few leisurely moments to myself with a good book. Most afternoons I can find some time to just relax and read what someone else worked hard on. I don't usually reread my own stories, but that's because I already know what's going to happen. I like surprises when I read.

How many of you have had a long enough time between a finished manuscript and your first edits to forget parts of your story? I'm not saying you're no longer familiar with your characters. They're like old friends. Sometimes revisiting an old manuscript as if it's a new book you're reading for pleasure is extremely helpful--but how long does it take to get that perspective?

My edits just came back for book 1 in my new Flirting with Fangs series. The editor did a great job and came up with some terrific questions and suggestions. Still, I caught a couple more opportunities for improvement on my own. I even invented a new character! Weird, huh?



It's not all bad when you're looking at your writing with fresh eyes. I caught myself smiling in a few places and thinking, Heh heh...that was pretty good. However, I rarely go back and read any of my finished books that have been published. I'm not talking about the galley or arc! I go over that puppy with a fine-tooth comb--pardon the cliches. But once it's too late to change anything, I'm almost afraid to look.

Recently I went back and reread a book I co-wrote with another author. Our voices and styles are similar and I wound up complimenting her on a particularly good line. She said, "You wrote that." I really didn't remember writing it and questioned my sanity--although, my sanity is often in question. (embarrassed grin) Perhaps I'm meant to do this odd job after all.

It's summer and light summer reads are part of the fun. I might just face my fear of imperfection and try reading some of my own light paranormal romances. I can imagine finding missed opportunities for humor or words and phrases I overuse, but it's all good. What's the worst that can happen? Will I be so hard on myself I offer to give back my advance and royalty checks? As if!

Have any of you read one of your own older books just for entertainment? Readers, I hear you sometimes reread an old favorite. Do you reread right away or wait until they're fresh again? 
 

24 comments:

  1. I'm an author, and I do sometimes re-read my own books. By the time they're published, they aren't exactly the same as what I submitted (edits, you know), and since I write a LOT, I usually don't remember everything about each book. When one of my books got a 5-star plus gold-star review, I re-read it and fell in love with the characters all over again. And sometimes I re-read my stuff because I'm planning a sequel and need to make sure I haven't forgotten important details.

    I sometimes cringe when I *think* about reading my own books, but then when I actually do it, the book turns out to be better than I remembered.

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  2. Thanks, Karenna!

    That's the best case scenerio. I'm still in the cringing phase. Perhaps I should just push past that and enjoy the part where it turns out so well.

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  3. Great post, Ash! I edit all the time as I'm writing because I found I was writing WAY too long if I wrote the story, then added setting, people descriptions, more emotions, etc. But when I'm adding in new stuff, and it hasn't been reread 50 times or more, I'll come across it and think, oh, gee, this is neat. When did I come up with that? But it's only because I haven't already read it so many times before!

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  4. Since I'm a habitual re-reader of favorite books written by someone else, it's no surprise that I occasionally go back and re-read my own books just for the heck of it. But there are times when it is necessary to do it. Right now book one of a series, "Magic Is Faster Than Light," has been out for a while, I am doing edits on the second book, "Magic to the Rescue," due out in Sept., and I'm 8 or 9 chapters into the third book, "Magic versus the Empire." You better believe I'm going back to the first two.

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  5. I'm also shy about reading my in print books. I'm afraid I'll see only the weaknesses, which every book has. And I do forget what I've written... I have thirty some MS rattling around in my head, and even with notes, there are details that go missing: WHAT color was his horse, and WHAT was the scent of his cologne? Readers have perfect memories, though...

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  6. I always cringe when I get y edits, wondering if I ca stand to reread something filled with my blood, sweat ad tears. And surprise! Like you, Ash, I am often delighted at what I managed to get on the pages. But there are some books I've written that I love so much I hated to let go of them and reread them ON PURPOSE! But I have to turn off my internal editor to do so.

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  7. I was invited to speak at a book club meeting where they read Romeo, Romeo which came out in 2008. I hadn't read it since I sent the galleys out and dreaded cracking the book. Still, it had been almost four years and I was afraid I'd forget something so I had to read it. I sat down with my kindle and a cup of coffee and found myself laughing. I soon forgot all about the fact that I wrote it and got caught up with the story. I still have a thing for Nick and damn, do I miss Dave!

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  8. I adore re-reading certain books...my own I am still working my way through my own...great article Ash

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  9. Heh heh, Ash. My first book, TASTE ME, was published last year, and the second, CHASE ME, was released earlier this month. I can't count how many times I've had to go back to TASTE ME simply as research. What color are Elliott's eyes again? How did I describe the layout of the Sebastiani family's lake cabin? What was the season again? I recently took a short break from my WIP to update my book bible, so I wouldn't have to keep going back!

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  10. It depends on the book. If I'm borrowing a book, and I loved it, I will re-read it the next day. Sometimes I will wait for some time to pass

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  11. I did that recently, Tim. I read just the first chapter though because that's where book one took off and the next wouldn't have had much to do with the rest. A long break in a series is a hard thing without a "book bible" like Tamara mentioned. I just heard about this recently and now that I'm on another series, I need to start one!

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  12. I've sometimes finished a new book and immediately started reading it again - usually when it's a well-loved author / series that I've waited ages to get a new book from. You devour it the first time and then re-read immediately for what you missed the first time LOL.

    But I have many favourite comfort reads for when I'm happy, when I'm sad, seasonal favourites etc. etc.

    Peggy

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  13. Oh, no. Never again. When I published my first book in 1990 I re-read it the moment I got it in my hot little hands. That was 25 books ago and I've never read another one--once it's publihsed. I wanted to tweak it and I couldn't. For me it's best not to re-read once final edits are done.
    Amelia

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  15. That is my personal indication of a 5/5 star book...when I immediately flip back and revisit passages that I am particularly struck by. I have been known to pick up some of my favorites and get lost in them even while I am on my way to do something else! Unfortunately, I have less time than ever to visit my favorites but they certainly remain on my shelves for that 'someday' when I have nothing else to do but wallow in the good feelings that my favorites give me (-:

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  16. LOL. I can see there's diverse opinions on this by the authors!

    It's great to know readers can enjoy a favorite story twice, even knowing how it'll play out. I guess that's what they mean by a "keeper."

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  17. Oy! I just caught a great big grammatical error in my last comment when I reread it! Thank goodness for editors and rewrites!

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  18. I'm rereading right now on the WIP...one final go through before I trust it into the hands of cyberspace. When I'm writing a series, I keep track of characters and important details with note cards and one of those cheap plastic recipe card holders. Works great and when the series is done, I take all the cards out, file them away and start all over! Rereading books...yes, ma'am...mine and other peoples if I like them. They're like visting old friends.

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  19. I'm with Desiree on this one, Ash. Yes, I do reread my books, especially after they're published and I've gotten past the horrible editing phase, which is getting easier all the time. :) I fall in love with my characters while writing the book and it's like visiting an old friend when I go back.

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  20. Oh, I love to re-read my favorites. I just always want to read new books too!

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  21. I usually don't want to read my own stuff for a while by the time I've finished it.

    When enough time has gone by, though - and we're talking years here - I can go back and rediscover it.

    This causes a sort of panic at times, as I usually can't believe I wrote it. There's a sense of "Oh no, I'm not this good anymore!"

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  22. Thanks for weighing in yesterday, everybody!

    I was curious and now I have some interesting feedback to consider.

    The main thing I took away from this is how important a good "keeper" book can be to an individual...and what an honor it is to write something that can be enjoyed again and again.

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  23. After enough time has passed or I've been involved with enough new casts of characters, I do sort of forget the details in my past books. Not that I don't still love them, but they're a bit fuzzy around the edges for me and they feel surprisingly fresh if I crack them open later.

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  24. I have read some of my books after they were published. At first, I just want to be able to fix them, but then I sort of get into the rhythm and realize they weren't so bad after all. We authors are so much harder on ourselves than anyone else. Sometimes, you just have to take what you can from the experience and move on.

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