Another gem gathered from my recent audiobook binge. I recently re-listened to the finale of a series I’d devoured thoroughly on first reading. I’d heard clips of the author’s other series, so I knew I could sit and listen to Phil Gigante read for a few hours, regardless of the subject (not to mention, I’m terrible about never remembering how a series ends, so I was curious to hear it all again).
While overall, I wasn’t disappointed, a singular moment stood out to me with such force that I’m still rambling about it over a week later.
The Fever series relies heavily on the MC’s internal processes A LOT, and while I usually love that sort of thing, there was a section where she rambled on for a good five minutes of listening time about how much Valentine’s day had always sucked in her childhood. Relatable? Sure. Relevant? Technically, as it was Valentine’s day present time. Readable? Not so much. I’m always wary of “speed bumps” in my writing, places where things slow down for no good reason, and this was one in a big, big way. I spent most of the rest of the chapter waiting to see why we’d taken that little trip down memory lane–scene after scene that had NOTHING to do with Mac being thrown up on in kindergarten. When she finally did get a Valentine’s kiss, it was so removed from the original meanderings, I had forgotten it was V-day in the first place.
Now, I know a flat character is a boring character, and weaving in little details is a good thing. And again, it’s usually supremely well executed in this series. And, further more, I hadn’t even noticed it my first read through.
But listening to Mac whine was almost painful. This is another case where hearing the chunk of text made it clear that it went on a little too long, and was too far removed from any further relevant scenes. While I can’t advocate reading your work aloud enough, I do get that it’s not always an option to read the entire body of your work. But in addition to speaking dialogue, I’d put this test to any significant internal monologue chunks as well. It’ll help spot check for relevance, overly lengthy bits, or pieces that info dump too much at once.
Plus, some characters just love to hear themselves talk. Can’t hurt to indulge a bit, no? (Seth, I’m looking at you buddy.)