Saturday, May 3, 2014

Book Clubs - Writer's Aids & Collaborators

Book Clubs are a remarkable source for input and participation. As a writer, I do a lot of them for my Novel Hot-Walker, Life on the Fast Track. I value everyone's opinion and especially for my book full of fast cars, romance, horse racing, crime, suspense, sports, murder, courtroom drama etc etc ... I truly appreciate the thoughts from others to improve on its readability.

The 'proof' is published into a printed book (draft). This way the club members purchase the book at printers cost, and then after reading it, gather at a pot-luck dinner or lunch meeting to draw-up several deep discussions for the author, me. Book Critiques held in honor of the author have a gathering of 8 - 10 people for wine/desserts, coffee/treats, or chilled smoothies on a hot summers day. But the idea is to have a couple of hours to dig into the nitty-gritty depths of the book to discuss the good and bad of the storyline, writing style, characters and offer their personal opinions without worry, knowing it is valuable information for the creator. The reader becomes the writers storyline editor.

Not everyone is a writer, and there are usually a few pretty harsh comments from those who just are there to criticize and go on and on, but a good host will recognize these individuals and encourage others to speak-up and move on to a different topic ... like the cover design, for instance. I especially like to know what sections of the story they enjoyed, just as much as the parts they didn't. Was it because of the information, did it drag on too long, was there a character they didn't connect with, or perhaps they didn't like the style of writing.... etc.

A few book clubs prefer to have the novel in ebook form because it is easier for them to highlight the areas and make their own notes. 
Once a group learns that the storyline is actually taken from my life experiences, they gain a different view, especially the men in the groups. But I think most writers use personal experiences, a lot of the time. For me and the novel Hot-Walker, Book Clubs perform best when men participate. They have offered me valuable info... enjoy the racetrack scenes and information but not as fussy on the harlequin sections. They have recommended that the last section of the novel describing the murder and courtroom drama would be better with flash-backs concerning these other areas. For them, the travel, relationships and  grieving the death of the main character's fiance would be better written in smaller doses and the story would be more readable for them.The women comment on a different point of view. They prefer the growing and changing relationships, romance, travel and looking at the different professions of the characters throughout the 30 years that the storyline covers. All their information is important to the writer because it is the reader who spreads the word about a good or interesting book.

And so what now? Well, Hot-Walker was originally written 30 years ago. I have been picking it up and putting it down since it was completed in 1984. Writing, editing, and reducing from 150,000 words to 110,000 word manuscript has been a challenge. I originally had the idea it should be for screen, film or TV. It is time to listen to my readers, take their many suggestions and make them a reality, and get on with it. Get it published, ebook it and work on my third novel. Some of the positives about Hot-Walker were ....

 I thought about it for weeks after I read it. 
Found the courtroom procedures very interesting.
Enjoyed reading about Toronto, Yorkville Village, and racetrack life in the 1960s.
The storyline was good, just needs some editing.
Great research, and could work as a movie.
The characters are realistic and the story is authentic, loved the woman jockey.

Back to the drawing board, so to speak, as many local readers provide more book clubs and author critiques for the upcoming year. I am grateful to the dozens of groups who have previously participated and offer their opinions which are sincerely valued. 


~ Mallory ~

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