As I have said before, my wife reads differently than I do. Here is a textbook example. (Spoiler warning for Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince)
Dumbledore has died. Snape murdered him. Harry saw it all. This is the climax of the sixth book, and probably one of the most tense scenes in the whole Harry Potter series. The sixth is my favorite and I read it in about twelve hours. The only break I took was to see the wreckage my sister left after she drove my mom’s car through the garage door. Helped out for about 45 minutes and then it was back to the book (I helped my dad put it back together that night). On my wife’s read through, she had no problem taking a break. She came back, she always does, but she has never been unable to put a book down. Or movie. Or show. Anything, really.
That little gene that forces a person to turn the page, even though it is three in the morning and you need to work tomorrow and you really, really need to get some sleep…Well, she doesn’t have that. She did the very same thing with my story. At the point where everything comes to a head, where as far as I am concerned, things are moving as fast as they ever have, everyone is in danger, something completely out of the blue happens, and there are only two chapters left…She put it down.
But what does that tell me? This is her natural way of things, but did I fail to put enough tension in the story? Did the foreshadowing properly lead up to this cliff? Does it come out of nowhere? These are all, frankly, strong possibilities. Foreshadowing is a whole line item I am going to focus on for the second draft. The thing that comes out of the blue, maybe it shouldn’t. I hint at it, but maybe the hints are too vague. Maybe the reason this didn’t keep my reader’s interest is because when it finally did happen, when it was finally revealed what these instances were, she didn’t know it was connected to these instances.
It’s these little tidbits that I want and need to know. Having someone read my work, it’s a mind blowing experience. More so than telling her about it (Now that I think of it, I need to make a whole post about that). I am looking forward to broadening the sample, seeing what other people have to say. At this point she feels like she’s in comp again. Too much to have these people get together a write a book report and present their findings to me?
Probably. We’ll see.