Writing Lessons Learned from a Reader

As I work on the second draft of my novel I’ve learned a great deal. The feedback I’ve received has taught many lessons, but there is one in particular I want to share:

If you have to explain it to the reader, it needs to be re-written.

Image courtesy of digitalart/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of digitalart/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Because I come from a small town the culture and traditions are ingrained. I know the pecking order, so to speak. It’s easy to forget that not everyone performs universal rituals the same way.

One of my critique partners is writing a novel set in a small town. I once told her I couldn’t believe something she wrote because I know how small towns work. I hope I phrased it in a nice manner.

Now I’m writing about goings on in a small town and am getting feedback like “who is the king?” at the high school football homecoming. I’m not sure how things work in larger towns and cities, but in small town Arkansas there isn’t a homecoming “king.” The Captains escort the Queen off the field. At least that’s how it happens where I grew up.

I’m glad she asked that question. It lets me know that I need to clarify things. I must stop writing as if everyone knows the inner workings of my mind and add details that normally wouldn’t occur to me.

The next challenge is to not go overboard with those details.