What readers see, writers should make sure they hear

I don’t want to suggest that I wrote a novel after many years in non-fiction simply because I thought I could do it all by myself. But with a demanding day job, I didn’t really have the time and resources to take on the research and travel that non-fiction requires. A novel just comes out of the writer’s head, doesn’t it?

Shows what I knew.

Now, aside from library research, I did pound out the first draft entirely on my own. It was twenty percent longer than the final, included characters who subsequently disappeared from the story and was organized entirely differently. But I didn’t know any of those were problems at the time. What I needed to find these shortcomings was some readers.

Even before editors, I needed readers.

Over the next several drafts, I let a number of people take a look. Other writers, family, friends. People in the business, people who might by my audience. Interestingly, though their comments were as varied as the readers, they were all helpful. One thing I’d learned over the years writing non-fiction—and especially writing advertising—is that if someone finds a word or a sentence or a passage confusing, I need to pay attention. This business is about communication.

Making room for reading made for hard work revising. But the result was worth it. Especially when readers started sharing back to me their favorite lines from the book. That’s something I hadn’t anticipated, but it’s something I loved. (And finding those lines apparently was something they loved, too. Check out my photo of two happy readers with One Red Thread on their tablet on an airplane.)

And that’s when I knew I’d hit on something that resonated. So here they are, some of my readers’ favorite lines from One Red Thread, shared back with the world once again:

  • It could be that everyone who lives to adulthood dies one hit at a time. Only children like Stan die suddenly.

  • Underneath, people sometimes remain the same they were as children. Other times, events tear and hurt, twist and reshape so deeply there’s no way to stay the same.

  • Eddy and I did cling together – when we weren’t pushing each other apart. We were so close to each other that we felt every rough edge, and every rough edge hurt like crazy.

  • I’d learned over the years that there’s always a reason why people force a good time.

  • “You know why I like to drink?” Tim asked. “I like to drink because even if life is long, the past is never so far away. And I don’t want to notice it any more. I like it when the edges get soft.”

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