I admit it, I’m a little nervous.
This coming Friday, at Jeff’s reading-and-signing event here at Manuel’s Tavern in Atlanta,Â I’m reading, too, alongside Jeff and J.M. McDermott. Now, I have hundreds of thousands of words in print in game books, but these guys are novelists. They’ve written, you know, real books. I’m just starting out on that path. Readings aren’t something people expect from game writers, so it’s not often that I get to flex this particular muscle.
It’s not quite the public-speaking thing that’s got me rattled, though. I’ve been on stage, I’ve been on the radio, I can be comfortable talking to strangers. The rub is this: What to read?
I decided early on that I’ll be reading an excerpt from my in-progress novel. I can think of lots of ways in which this is a bad idea. Talking about a work in progress can puncture it, deflate it, make it feel like it’s finished before it is. For me, at least, hearing that a story sounds good, or reads well in the first draft, takes some of the wind out of it â€” it’s validation or rejection without all that trouble of finishing the actual storytelling. Risky.
Reading from an unfinished work is tricky, too, because some of the material that might be great for a reading doesn’t actually exist yet. I spent some time last week rushing ahead in my manuscript to write one scene in time for the reading, because I think it might play well on its own. That’s probably what I’ll read.
In preparation, I’ve gone back and rewatched Jeff’s Boston reading a couple of times. I like how he puts different parts of Finch together to create a rich reading experience and a strong picture of Wyte.
But I want to ask you: What makes a great reading? What are some great readings you’ve been to, and what made them stand out?
Was it action? Was it dialog? Was it the rhythm of the prose or was it in the reader’s voice?
What do you hope for when you go to a reading? What do you dread?