It’s all about the reader

Alex Belth posted his Q&A with one of my favorite authors, Pete Dexter, on Bronx Banter almost a year ago. I didn’t see the interview until this weekend, but it’s worth sharing. Of course, I’m biased.

In his conversation with Belth and elsewhere, Dexter mentions the importance of storytelling and his desire to be entertained by what he reads rather than dazzled by beautiful writing:

…to me that’s the definition of what it is to be a serious writer. Which is to be good enough to talk about what you’re talking about without being so good that it’s all about your brilliance.

Editors at publishing houses are likely to agree. Their primary obligation, many would say, is to readers. As intermediaries whose job is to improve on writers’ efforts, they can face obstinacy that undermines the collaboration.

Writers can try to avoid severe editing by learning to read their own work with fresh eyes. Good critique partners also help, because they can detect problems long before the author considers his or her work finished. The amount of effort invested in revision based on feedback from impartial early readers of a manuscript can mean the difference between a dilettante and a professional writer.

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