Thursday, October 22, 2015

How to make it a "re-reader" book

Hi visitors. It's Lisa today.

What's a re-reader? It's a book that people re-read. I'll give an obvious example: HARRY POTTER. Anyone who has read any of the HARRY POTTER books, generally they've read them again. For me that "re-read" number is closer to one than ten.

So what makes a book a re-read? I have it boiled down to two reasons - either it's the plot that brings you back or it's the main character.

Often it depends on the reader as to what brings them back to books again. For me, it's the main character. It doesn't matter how amazingly creative the plot, it doesn't matter how smooth the writing is either, if the main character doesn't pull me back, I won't be back. I can handle a shaky plot, but I won't be back if that character doesn't mesmerize me. Not that it's a bad book, it just isn't good enough to read twice.

What are you thoughts? How can an author write a book that guarantees you'll be back for a re-read?

Ashley: For me, it's a mixture of the character and the plot. The books that I've re-read the most have been Sophie Kinsella's Confession of a Shopaholic Series and Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl. With both, I clicked instantly with the narrators because I found points in common (Rebecca's shopping addiction and Cath's love for writing) and the plots kept me intrigued and my imagination running. An author's writing style will also get me hooked.

Dan: This is a tough one, because as a reader I'm pretty picky about rereading things. There are just so many books that I haven't read for the first time. That said, I'm a sucker for a good character and a great plot. Pace, too, is important, because I'm less likely to repeat a book that slowed down in the middle. Much of this is subjective to the reader, but there's one thing an author can do to help the chances of re-reads: write a series. When a new book in a series comes out, I'll often read the previous book(s) to get warmed up for it.

Caitlin: Honestly, I can't remember the last time I re-read a book. And I may be one of the few Harry Potter fans who only read the books once. Like Dan said, there are so many books out there I haven't read! I feel an anxiety about that, how will I ever read all these books! And that anxiety is a pretty big deterrent for me when it comes to re-reading something. Additionally, the mot fun pat of reading, to me, is the discovery and anticipation, which is lost a little on a second read. All that said, I will often go back and read the things I underlined, certain other sections, etc. as more of a study. If I really liked the narrator's voice, I'll re-examine a few sections to try to dissect what it is that I like about it and see if there isn't something I can keep in mind when creating my own voices. I will also re-read short stories that I really like in this same way, studying them the second/third/fourth time around instead of simply enjoying them. There are also several books I read as a kid or in college that I keep thinking I really should re-read now because they'd probably be quite different with an older perspective (Huckleberry Finn, Pride and Prejudice, Heart of Darkness, etc.) Additionally, there have been a few sequels where I felt a little lost and probably should have re-read the first book to refresh my memory first. :)

Friday, October 9, 2015


Bonjour tout le monde. It's me Ashley and today I'll be taking over the Trouble The Write Way blog with my very first post.

I was recently digging through the mountains of documents on my laptop, when I decided to open up my writing folder and skim through what I had. As it turns out, instead of a few drafts, the folder contained 12 drafts of the same novel, all with various plot lines and endings.

Most people would find it strange that I've kept so many drafts, especially since the plot and characters I'm dealing with now have evolved so much and barely compare to their original form.

However, keeping all drafts is a fantastic idea. If you're ever stuck with your latest draft and feel like you've gone off the rails, you can always return to a previous draft and go from there. You might also find an amazing metaphor or a killer line that might just become your stand out line in the published version.

What about you guys? Do you keep all of your drafts? Why? How many drafts do you average?

Lisa: For the most part, my drafts are simply revisions or edits of the original draft, and those edits I make on the only draft that exists. There's no need to have two files of one story. However, with one story, I decided to try a different approach and the entire first half of the book would be have a totally different structure. For that, I'd call it a rewrite, and I did keep the original draft. Maybe I had a presentiment that I would hate the new version. I was right, and there's no describing the relief I felt when I finally gave up on my rewrite and saw the original version still in my file waiting for me to come back to it. Altogether, I've written seven books, and only the one was rewritten. So, two drafts for one book, versus six books with only one draft, my rewrite average is very low.

Dan: Welcome, Ashley! We're glad to have a new contributor, and this is a fantastic topic. I too am a pack-rat when it comes to keeping drafts. I even have trouble making myself recycle old hard copies of stories that have been workshopped. With digital files, it's much easier (and cleaner) to just keep everything electronically. I save new versions of my WIP often, and back up all of those files to a Dropbox folder. The selling point for me is that I can go back and repurpose stuff that I had to cut in previous versions. I never delete anything permanently.