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THE EASY READ

March 10, 2021

            In a way, this is a summary of what I’ve been preaching for years here at Fred Central.

            The easy read is all about making your book the best product imaginable, producing the best format for your readers, creating the easiest way to get your story out to the public. In other words, creating the easiest read for your readers.

            That brings up the question as to how? Or, more importantly why?

            Do you care?

WHY DO IT?

            As I’ve pointed out before, some authors don’t care to make things easy. They want you, the reader, to come up to their level, not the other way around. They want to “edumacate” you, teach you something, bring you up to a higher level with their prose, style, and format.

            They want to break the mold.

            Nothing wrong with that if they can find an audience, which many do.

            On the other hand, there are those authors who just want to get their message across, whatever that might be. They aren’t out to force their readers to bend to their will. They aren’t out to try and mold readers into their image of a particular kind of reader.

            They want to communicate with as many people as possible, plain and simple.

            Nothing wrong with that either.

            There are those authors that like to throw a little of the mix in there, by keeping it simple, yet throwing in a little more complexity without going overboard in either grammar, style, or format.

            Nothing wrong with that either. There will always be an audience for that as well.

WHICH APPROACH ARE YOU?

            Since most of you reading this are not likely best-selling authors yet…I have to be realistic here…you’re struggling to make your mark in a huge market filled with countless writers and authors. You want to reach as many readers as possible. Therefore, I personally recommend the “simpler is better” approach.

            There’s the philosophy that since you’re not exactly setting the world on fire yet, why not go for broke and take the highbrow route right off? It wouldn’t matter if you alienate most of your readers with complex prose in some off-the-wall format because you’re not selling many books anyway, right? Maybe, someday, your style will catch on. I say, if that’s what you want to do, go for it.

            On the other hand, if you’re in that same boat, but want to sell more books, and are willing to make a more readable story, try the easier-to-read approach and see where you go.

HOW I APPROACH IT

            This is mainly for new readers here at Fred Central, but it can apply to you that have been visiting a while.

            My philosophy, from day one, has been the same.

            Long before I was ever a writer, I was a reader. Sixty plus years now, not to age myself!

            In all that time, I’ve read a LOT of books…thousands. I’ve suffered through every style and format imaginable. I must also say that I’m not just the average schmuck with a high school degree and only technical training for a background. I have several graduate degrees behind me, so I’m above average “edumukated.” In other words, I’ve been around the block. I’ve also had twenty-six years plus as a writer to add to that. Since the late nineties, I began reviewing them on Amazon, though a lot of them have since disappeared due to age or obsolescence.

            This resume is not meant to brag or tout anything special about me except to state that I’ve been exposed to a lot of writing and reading, including plenty of college textbooks and intellectual tomes.

            My reading interest, despite all that college, still remains with fiction, which many consider “lowbrow.” It will be for the foreseeable future.

            Since I’ve been exposed to so many different writing styles, I know what works for me and what doesn’t. Of course, I’m not everyone, but at the same time, I’ve been around long enough to have punished myself with stuff I haven’t really been comfortable with until I finally realized why I wasn’t comfortable with it. That revelation came about when I started writing in the mid-nineties. It became even more pronounced as I became a better and more proficient writer.

            Despite that rather lengthy resume, I still must say that I’m not everyone. What I have at least proven to myself is that despite anomalies, a lot of the stuff I like best ends up being on the best seller lists. Sure, many of what I call anomalies end up as best sellers as well, but many of them are not as enduring and tend to polarize a lot more readers than the easer-to-read styles.

            Why?

THE WAY I SEE IT

            It boils down to the easy read.

            Some authors get slammed for boiling their work down to the “base level” and pandering to the lowest common denominator.

            Oh yeah?

            So, that means that when an author writes something so that it’s an easy read that everyone can enjoy, it’s supposed to suck? It sucks because it’s not “challenging” or “intellectually stimulating” enough to satisfy the highbrows?

            Without naming names, I’ll give you examples of what I’m talking about.

            The books don’t throw the dictionary at the reader.

            The books aren’t filled with endless characterization.

            The books don’t jerk at the heartstrings with some complex deep meanings or political or philosophical candyrock psychedelic profundities.

            The books aren’t written in some odd format like no punctuation or 150K words with only three chapters.

            The books aren’t written in multiple tenses or point of view switching from first to third to first every chapter.

            The books don’t have taboo subject matter for shock value.

SUMMARY

            The shame of it all is that there are thousands upon thousands of great stories out there. It’s all in the manner of telling (or showing) them that’s the issue.

            Then there are plenty of lousy stories as well. Many of them, unfortunately, get published. I’ve read a few. My reviews reflect the good and the bad.

            Do you prefer to tell your great story in a way that is accessible to everyone, or to few?

            That’s the choice you have to make.

            Happy writing!

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