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Nobody is reading these days?

Guest post by Norma Jean Lutz

reading on a plane

Looking for an Excuse?

Hey there fellow novelist!  If you are casting about to latch onto an excuse to abandon your novel (whether it’s stored in a box somewhere, buried in an old computer file, or still in your heart), this one will do as good as any other:

No one is reading these days! 

Okay. Sure. Whatever.

Reading or Not Reading?

A few years ago, I remember sitting in a doctor’s office waiting room and observing that nearly every person in the room was talking on his or her cell phone.

If that scene were to be repeated today, what would those people in that waiting room be doing?  Their phone (hand-held device) is not held to the ear.  Instead, every person is looking at it.  Something that would have seemed pretty strange only a decade ago.

So what are people doing by looking at their hand-held devices?  I think you will have to agree – they are reading.  Omigosh.  People are reading. 

Oh, but how can that be? Everyone is saying that no one is reading. Now granted there are lots of videos, games, and such on these hand-held devices, but one still has to admit – people are reading. Possibly more so than ever before.

Different Manner of Reading

Are the majority of the buying public walking into a bookstore these days and pulling a $25 book off the shelf and making that purchase?  Not so much. (Personally, I buy lots of used books from Amazon!  Don’t you?)

The fact remains: people are still reading.  They may be reading in a different manner.  They may be reading using different tools (hand-held devices and e-readers), but people are still reading.  (She said again with emphasis!)

Not only that, these readers are delighting to scoop up two or three novels for a few bucks from Kindle and read them while waiting in the doctor’s office, or on a long plane flight, or on vacation at the beach.  Or scores of other places too numerous to mention.

Sorry if I spoiled your favorite excuse. I trust you’ll get over it.

Solzhenitsyn wasn’t Looking for Excuses

And while we’re on the subject of dousing excuses — if you really want to learn about a novelist who was convinced (for an entire lifetime) that external circumstances cannot, in any way, dampen the drive of a true, dedicated novelist – read about the life of Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

And as I’m sure you’re quite aware – Solzhenitsyn certainly wasn’t (isn’t) an isolated example.

How Important Is It?

The point here is this: those looking for excuses to jump ship will find them.  Those determined to bring the ship all the way home to the harbor will find a way to do so.

How important is it to you to be a novelist? (Or a published writer in most any venue?)

Nuf sed!

become a novelist

About the author and her site:

Oklahoman Norma Jean Lutz, is an author, speaker, writing instructor, and novel critique consultant. Author of more than 50 published books, she’s been in the writing/publishing industry for more than 30 years.

When writing a novel, the start can be the scariest part! Yours free! Be A Novelist 15-page Writer’s Workshop entitled: Don’t Dilly Dally at the Starting Gate – How to Start Your Novel with a Bang.

Current trend in novel writing

Writing chapters

For those of us who are readers, there have been some obvious shifts in the tenancies of old school writers and those that all the best selling authors of today.

One of the most noticeable and potentially impacting is the relatively new approach to the anatomy of chapters within novels.

As an author of poetry books, much of my interest lies in literature by writers who have been dead for several hundred years. And in reading novels from ages gone by, the style generally involved long chapters that where fairly few in number.

In more modern writing, perhaps really taking hold a few decades ago, novelists began to emphasize shorter chapters, some even as minimal as one page, and dozens of chapters in a single book. I have read books with more that 100 chapters.

Why the change?

I don’t know who can really answer that question wtih certainty. But here’s my theory. In today’s world, we have many more vehicles to stimulate our minds and there is no secret that our attention spans have changed. Perhaps the shorter chapters keep is intrigued for a longer period of time. I know that they often tend to make us feel like we are making greater progress within a book and this encourages us to keep going.

Whatever the reason is, this simple change seems to be having big results.

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