Sunday, December 10, 2006

page 69 test

Marshal Zeringue at CAMPAIGN FOR THE AMERICAN READER recently invited me to participate in his page 69 test.

CAMPAIGN FOR THE AMERICAN READER is an independent initiative to encourage more readers to read more books.

"Marshall McLuhan, the guru of The Gutenberg Galaxy (1962), recommends that the browser turn to page 69 of any book and read it. If you like that page, buy the book. It works. Rule One, then: browse powerfully and read page 69."

how to choose a novel

page 69 of Pale Immortal

page 69 ended up being a scene that's always made me cringe and yawn. i explain my feelings about it a bit more on the american reader blog. it's the one area of the book that really seemed forced. i wrote it with other characters, then removed them. then put them back. then removed them. i've even worried that readers would stop reading for good when they reached that point.

I really want to thank Marshal for the astounding amount of time and work he's put into this very cool project. He researches every book in-depth and includes numerous links and reviews. Thanks, Marshal!


Kelly Parra said...

What a cool campaign! And I read the excerpt on the blog. I never would have been able to tell there were any problems with the scene. =D

Bill Cameron said...

Well now that's interesting, because I find page 69 of Pale Immortal very enticing. The page starts with: "Suddenly there was the town, or what was left of it." That sentence alone is a lure, and as the paragraph continues and the scene unfolds, you've created a very haunting mood. I think Pale Immortal passes the page 69 test beautifully!

Bill Cameron said...

Oh my lord, Blogger is being a butt today.

anne frasier said...

kelly, i agree about the blog being a fantastic idea!
i don't feel i'm that great when it comes to descriptive passages. my writing tends to get almost too feminine, which is probably why that pages makes me feel self-conscious.

bill, LOL! i noticed blogger was acting up last night and wouldn't let me comment. sheesh.

anyhoo, after posting this i started thinking that while page 69 might not be the most flattering representation of my writing, it's probably a good representation of the book because we are introduced to Old Tuonela, the place both books are about.

and it could be that any page pulled from the book would make me cringe. really.

angie said...

The pg. 69 idea is hilarious and vaguely naughty - I love it! And yes, PI passed the test just fine. Kinda cool that that page is about Old Tuonela and (one of my favorite images) the blighted tree. Nice interview, too!

anne frasier said...

angie, yeah, i really like the naughtiness of page 69. :D pretty funny.

before this a few people mentioned that scene as being one of their favorites, which really proves we aren't good at seeing our own stuff clearly. and i not only see what's there, i see what used to be there and i recall the frustration and probably the self-loathing i felt when i was reworking it. all of that comes back when i read it.

anne frasier said...

bill, i deleted your gazillion repeated comments. now everybody will wonder what you're talking about.

bekbek said...

Interesting. I just grabbed the nearest book and flipped to page 69, and you know what?

It works! Absolutely I can tell from page 69 alone that I do not ever want to read the Macon State College 1998-99 Academic Catalog. Yucko!

Bailey Stewart said...

Page 69 *snort*

Yes, I'm with everyone else, page 69 of PI does pass. So I tried it with the book I'm currently reading, and that passed too. Great idea.

Jude said...

I think this is a great idea- I'd heard of something similar but with kids' books where you were advised to look at page 20 something... it definitely works.

Jude said...

I think this is a great idea- I'd heard of something similar but with kids' books where you were advised to look at page 20 something... it definitely works.

anne frasier said...

bekbek, LOL! next you'll be trying to tell me that page 69 of the phone book is boring!

bailey and jude, now i'm going through books and testing them. used to be i just looked at the first few pages, which we know are meant to hook us so they really aren't a good test. page 69 does seem to work fairly well so far. i can see it all now -- publishers making sure writers have that initial hook, then a stronge page 69.
:D but what does PAGE 69 look like? we must see an example of PAGE 69!

Bill Cameron said...

I can't even find a phone book anymore!

anne frasier said...

phone book? hey wait. I'M on page 69.


hehe. now i have to go look.

Anne McAllister said...

I'm terrified to try it on the book I just turned in. I read the damn thing in galleys last week and wanted to throw it in the fire. Chances are p 69 is no better than the rest of it. Should I check p 69 of the galleys, because that won't be p 69 of the book?

No, on second thought, I don't want to know. But in my upcoming in Feb book, p 69 is the end of a chapter and, yeah, it has a bit of a hook. Interesting.

Thanks, Anne. I'm off to check on PI, too. Glad to see you back from Savannah in one piece.

anne frasier said...

oh, anne. i know that feeling of wanting to toss the whole damn thing and knowing it's too late. but i also know that feeling doesn't always have to do with the quality of the book. it might look fine when you revisit it. or at least okay.

yep, i'm back and going stir crazy. it's the claustrophobic quality of winter that absolutely drives me crazy crazy crazy. i can hear planes going over right now and i wish i were on one.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

Thanks for the link to Marshal's website, Anne. I love it. And I love your page 69.

spyscribbler said...

Wow, thanks for the link to his site! I'm glad I found yours, too. You know, I can totally relate to your comment on JA Konrath's blog. I have the exact same feelings.

Have you ever read your stuff after a year or so has passed? It's kinda weird, like you're reading someone else. And it's not near as bad as you were sure it was.

Your page 69 worked for me! Another book to add to my TBR pile! Good luck!

Shesawriter said...

How daunting that must have been. You should have tried to bribe him to go up ten more pages. Or maybe back ten. Hell, I don't know. It probably wasn't as bad as you thought it was anyway.


anne frasier said...

rob, thanks so much. :)

spyscribbler: welcome to my blog! i know what you mean about reading something a year or so later. it's a strange feeling. the more years, the stranger.

tanya, we didn't have to post any of the page if we didn't want to. marshal was nice that way. some people just commented on how representative page 69 was, and some only posted a few lines. it would have been painless if not for this bad habit i have of whipping myself. :D ahhhh.

Bailey Stewart said...

for this bad habit i have of whipping myself. :D ahhhh.

But it's so much more fun when you have someone else do it .... ;)

Jaye Wells said...

This vaguely reminds me of that thing where you open a book at random and whatever sentence your eye lands on is your fortune. At least, I think there's something like that--sometimes my mind makes things up.

I think your point about not being the best judge of our own work is interesting. I have learned that I can't let myself judge a new idea. I have to do some writing with it and then let my critique group take a gander. So far the stuff I thought was the worst crap they liked the best. And you know what? They ended up being right. Why are we such freaks?

Jaye Wells said...

I just thought of a new slogan for writers. "Writing: If you feel crazy you're probably doing it right."

anne frasier said...

bailey! :O


jaye, that fortune thing seems vaguely familiar. something maybe my daughter and her friends did when they were in junior high or grade school maybe.

yes, we're freaks -- that's the truth.

the other side of not being able to judge your own writing is trusting yourself. i've OFTEN made the mistake of going along with other people, then later realizing i'd made a huge mistake. when my confidence is low that happens and my thoughts get muddled. then i trust people i shouldn't trust.

love the slogan. :D