Directed Reading

I’m still collecting information for my revision plan for Song. After fixing the gross timeline issues, I am working on a directed reading.

The Process

A directed reading is a review of the manuscript looking for specific properties or issues. The way I approach this is to have a list of topics or questions, and to go over the text multiple times bearing each of those questions in mind in turn.

What works for me is to read a scene or chapter multiple times, but you could also read the entire manuscript with each question in mind. Trying to maintain multiple points of view while reading a particular piece of text is hard: harder than I can manage consistently, certainly.

Inputs

The inputs for this are the text, and the questions. Here are some examples:

  • do things the characters put down in one place stay in that place?
  • ensure that the characters know about the main plot point at the right time. Eg, if Character B acts in a particular way because they are unaware that Character A has deliberately hidden the McGuffin, make sure that they only find out about that after it’s too late for them to rewind their actions.
  • verify that the language used is consistent. Eg, don’t use idioms like clockwise if there are no clocks.
  • look for ways to enhance the sense of place

… and so on. I may add more during the read, but I start with 5-10 questions I want to interrogate the text about.

My preferred mode of working here is to have the text on a tablet and the questions on my phone. I use the Kindle app (adding annotations is easy) for the text, and Google Keep to hold my question list.

Outputs

The output is more things to work on in the revision plan. Categorise the comments just as before, or invent new categories for those things that seem like a solidly themed block of work.

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