A good read is a pleasurable read
Pleasure moments—sometimes they seem all-too elusive. But it’s what we are seeking, from having a good conversation with a friend to holding our child’s hand, to the first kiss of a forever love. Here’s the really neat thing about pleasure moments. They are something we can revisit over and over without fear of reprisal. They never haunt us or hurt us in any way.
Reading a book is a pleasure moment. With a good book, you can create the world the author is suggesting for yourself. This holds true for both fiction and non-fiction. The author only puts the idea (in non fiction) or the story (in fiction) out there—what you do with it is entirely up to you.
This is why it is vital to make sure that your book is understood by the reader. You, the writer, are making it easy for them to “get” what you’re saying. You’re paying attention to focus and flow. You’re not using big words to look smart when you know the reader isn’t going to understand them. You’re not trying to write like a 19th century novelist because you happen to like how that reads. You’re paying attention to what the reader needs and wants.
And here’s a different viewpoint on proofing.
You’re getting the grammatical and mechanical mistakes out of the way so that the reader doesn’t get stuck on them. Proofing is not done because you have some specter of a disapproving English teacher looking down at you over her nose. If I had a dollar for every time someone has said to me, “it drives me nuts when I see mistakes in a book,” I could practically retire.
Think about the timeless image of a kid under the covers with a flashlight, reading a book. Have you ever done that? Have you ever stayed up all night reading a book—which is the adult version of hiding under the covers? It’s because the story was so gripping or the truth the author was imparting was so spot on, you had to make sure you got it all. You had to know how the book ended. (and conversely, have you ever read a story that didn’t end the way you wanted it to or read a “how to” book that really didn’t tell you how to do X, what the book was promising. It’s one of the most frustrating experiences ever.
Stories are life. We remember things better if they’re put in a story. In the Thousand and One Nights, more commonly known as Arabian Nights—the classic collection of tales of the likes of “Ali Babba and the Forty Thieves” and “Aladdin”—the narrator of those stories, Scheherazade, figured out that by telling a gripping yarn, she would literally stay alive. The sultan who married her had a very bad habit of marrying a woman, spending the wedding night with her, and then killing her the next day. Scheherazade told a story to the sultan every night but withheld the ending until the next day. Because the story was so good, the sultan kept her alive to hear what happened.
Life can be wonderfully pleasurable, and reading a good book is one of the best. It is a freeing experience, to take that pleasure moment and do something constructive with it. Even if it’s something as simple as passing the book on to someone else. It created an impact.
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