Thursday, May 3, 2012

The page 99 test

Someone posted a link to a site that tests your 99th page. The theory is that the 99th page of your book should be good enough to make the reader turn the page. Many people have commented on this. My favorite blogging authors like Kirstin (Pub Rants in the side bar) have mentioned that they'd turn away most of the PUBLISHED books when they were presented with the 99th page. I put it to a test and found that just about every 99th page I looked at of the novels I loved was dull. You know the ones that weren't dull? The classics. The biggest sellers I loved. Books like Treasure Island. There's a lesson to be learned there. Make every chapter count.

I looked at the 99th page of my WIP and it was...okay. It was polished enough to pass for writing, but not particularly engaging. It tells me I'll have to revisit that section. I'm not sure anyone who doesn't write can fully appreciate the self-control it takes to go back to a section you've revised a dozen times and decide that it's just not good enough. Think about it this way, if you were baking a cake, troweling a floor with grout, singing a jingle, pricing a project, deciding on whether a part of a business works, would you go over it a dozen times, and then decide to do it again? Now, that's just one page out of, oh, about 400. Then do the same for each chapter, and for each primary section of the book. It is a tedious, grueling task, and I have no doubt that most people don't make it in the writing world because they are too impatient and want to see what the results are of what they've done before they can honestly say they have pushed forth their best effort.

Bottom line is, do not assume your reader will accept a slow or dull part in the book, simply because you need it for a transition. I know I have a ton of work to do in my revisions.I pray I can make them half as good as the masters did when they wrote the classics.

2 comments:

  1. Luckily my page 99 is all sex!! But you are right, Fred, every page should count.

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  2. My page 99 is character inner musing, but it does outline his conflict and role in the plot so I'm generally happy with it.

    *contemplates baking a cake and grouting a floor at the same time a dozen times* Yep, that pretty much encompasses the writing/editing process. Don't forget that because you've smelled the cake baking, mixed with the smell of the grout so many times, the whole thing makes you queasy now.

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