One of the good things about editing, especially when it’s a story you wrote several years before, is you can read it with a critical eye. There are parts that blow me away because they’re good (wow, I wrote that!) and then there are other parts that have me cringing over word choices or the over abundance of adverbs, backstory, or passive verbs.
I've done more reading than writing the past couple of years and while I can read a book critically, I usually don’t. I’m a beta reader. I read those stories and proposals with a different eye. When I pick up a book to read it’s for story’s entertainment value. Kind of like movies—some are good, some are just okay and they entertain, some movies are fabulous in their storyline and execution. Do I see flaws, sure, but unless they’re really bad and the story has huge holes in it (at which point I don’t read any further ‘cause you've lost my interest), I tend to gloss over all the little nits and concentrate on the adventure, solving the crime, falling in love, or kicking ass. But, when a story is done very well, I do take note of how an author handles certain components in the story. I’ll mark it and then go back late and analyze the why and how.
Recently, I've read several stories with a good plot but what made the story outstanding to me was how the characters (even the villains) just sparkled. They were so real and the dialog was excellent as were the reactions and interactions between those characters. Their dialog and reactions add excitement and fun to the story without a lot of narrative. It takes skill to do that. A few authors who have a knack of writing good characters like that are Carolyn Brown, Julie Ann Walker, Lori Foster, Olivia Cunning, Karen Foley, and Susan Sey, to name but a few. Carolyn writes some fabulous characters that use regional phrases and colloquialisms—I love the richness and the humor of her stories.
As I read over my stories one of the things I’m paying attention to is how I've written my characters and their dialog. I want them to sparkle, too. I want the layers touching on the senses that put the reader on the spot and in the action. Right there on the center-line They hear the grunts, smell the sweat, feel the
excitement, and hear the whistle of the ball in their ears and the smack it makes when it’s caught. I don’t want them to just be spectators in the nosebleed section.
I've got some work to do and that’s a fact. But, I’m not groaning over it all. Instead there is a sizzle of excitement as I look at better ways to put my reader on the spot.