What Makes a Book Re-Readable?

I suppose if all us budding authors knew this then we’d be bottling it away and keeping a very close eye on it to make sure nobody else learns the secret. But it baffles me that some people only permit themselves one go at a story.

My mother is a one-read-and-go kind of reader. Don’t get me wrong, she loves to read and get lost in a story. And as baffled as I am as to why she doesn’t re-read, she is just as baffled at my persistent re-reading nature. I cannot get enough of a good story.

I think that on a first read, you take in the plot. The first read is all about the narrative; the glorified A to B. Now the second read is when things get interesting. This is where I learn more about the characters and what makes them tick. I think it’s very easy to rush your way through a first read just to get to the end to find out what happens. And in rushing, you blow passed all of the tiny moments that are arguably the most important.

A third read, well, a third read is to combine your understanding of the plot with your love/loath of characters and to really experience their journey with them. On a third read you get less of those ‘I don’t remember this bit’ moments and more of the ‘I love this part’ moments. Surely, that’s why we read?

I don’t think there can be any magical formula that authors have tapped into to make their novel a re-reading wonder. Or maybe there is. Maybe the inner circle of the book-world are rubbing their hands together and smirking at all us fledgling writers who are desperate to learn the secret.

This may sound completely narcissistic and self-indulgent, but I even enjoy re-reading books that I have written.

Part of my writing… oh God, what’s that word? This is happening an awful lot to me at the moment. Words escape me. I try to scour my memory banks for their meaning until I finally remember… routine!

Part of my writing routine is re-reading what has come before, to get into my head where I am and tap away at a keyboard until I get to where I’m going.

Occasionally, when weeks pass and no writing has happened, I need to read more than just the last chapter I wrote. I need to immerse myself in what’s come before. Normally that means re-reading the last 2 or 3 chapters. I usually have a mini-edit whilst I’m there. It’s normally sentence structure and spotting some spelling mistakes that have slipped through Microsoft Word’s net. I have to admit that I usually do a lot of what I call productive-editing whilst re-reading and don’t normally allow enough time at my laptop to write what I had intended to write when I first sat down! Nevertheless it’s all book work and that’s nothing to be scoffed at.

There have been occasions where months have passed and no writing has happened. Gasp. Shock. Horror.

Crystal Green and the Moon Machine‘s first 8 chapters existed for a long time before I started this blog back in January. I think about 9 months had lapsed before I continued my foray into this world. Of course now I’m well into it, but that’s not the point. In order to get back into it, I had to re-read it from the beginning.

I did something unusual, which was to print out the 8 chapters and rather than re-read and do some productive-editing, I just read it; as if it was a real book written by someone else. And I actually enjoyed myself! Faith restored. I got my confidence back and this blog was born. Since then I’ve accomplished a lot.

But I am puzzled as to what makes a book re-readable? Ultimately of course it is an entirely personal thing. It’s whatever floats your boat and gets you back to the harbor to sail again out into the raging sea. I am hoping that this book is going to be re-readable. I’m sort of designing it that way, planting seeds and clues to future stories so that if or when you do decide to go back, then you will get a new level of satisfaction.

Well, that’s what I’m trying to do anyway.

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