Monthly Archives: December 2010

First Reader Exception

A first reader is that person you ask to read your story when it is completed, almost finished, or when you are so sick of it you don’t see it clearly anymore. A teacher said to me, “Your mother is not the ideal first reader because the goal here is constructive criticism, not praise.” My siblings read my stories and say it is difficult to comment because they see me in my characters, or sometimes themselves! And with other stories based on fact, “…that’s not how it really happened!” So, other family members can too create conundrums other than the gushing mother syndrome.

My mum is an exeception to the first reader rule. She has a tendency to point out what she doesn’t like first. She is also an avid reader (albeit, we have very different tastes), and her grammar and spelling are impeccable. Recently, I went to visit her in the hospital and gave her a story to read that I was close to submitting. I told her to disregard any real life connections she might infer and feel free to scribble on the page.

She let her ward roomie D. read it as well. Mum apologized to D. for the  F words in my story and the roomie replied, “Oh well, she’s a modern woman.”

Mum gave great comments regarding time line, grammar (I’m still explaining once you know the rules you can break them, regarding sentence fragments) and questioned factual information. Her notes were very professional and it has inspired her to write/journal about her experience in the hospital. Go Mum!

My first readers are the amazing writers I meet bi-monthly to workshop, but I may ask my Mum again.

Technology as Time

When writing stories I avoid using references to technology. I think I have only once mentioned a computer and I’ve never written the words cell, text, blog, i-pod, kindle, facebook etc. in a story.

I don’t find technological devices ascetically pleasing in real life or on the page. Then, I stumbled upon this Kurt Vonnegut quote:

‘I think that novels that leave out technology misrepresent life as badly as Victorians misrepresented life by leaving out sex.’

I admit, technology is a great way to pinpoint a specific time period, but I think it can also date a piece or exclude certain readers. Wondering if my characters need to get with the times.