One Thing I Like About My Kindle…

I like a lot of things about my Kindle, but there’s one I especially like when I study the style of other authors:

That little progress bar on the bottom. The one that tells you how far into the book you are as a percentage.

And this is why: I’m working on a novel, and I have a word count in mind. I expect I’ll come pretty close in the end, but sometimes I wonder, “How far into the story should I be at this point? Am I setting the right pace? Am I going too fast (not enough pages) or too slow (too many pages)?”

That little indicator gives me an idea of how other authors pace their books. It doesn’t matter how many pages their books are. As a percentage, I can tell more precisely when events are happening. How quickly does the author build conflict? When do the subplots begin to tie together? How quickly paced is the climax?

I realize these are individual elements of each story, and there’s no precise formula, but it helps to see how others have done it for comparison.

Outlines are a great tool, but they still need to be translated into words and chapters. And stories evolve. The written word diverges from the original concept sometimes.

If I were to calculate my current completion point, I’d be at about 60%. When I think of it on the Kindle, that sounds about right for where the story is.

Do you have a kindle or e-reader? When do you use it? What do you like about it? What do you think about how to pace a story?

10 thoughts on “One Thing I Like About My Kindle…

  1. I don’t have an e-reader and probably won’t get one. I think it might be even harder on my eyes than looking at a computer screen. And I can’t imagine writing a novel! I will stick to painting!

    • Eyestrain is a big concern, and there’s some debate about it. Kindle suggests it causes as much eyestrain as a regular book because the technology it uses is not a backlit screen like an iPad or computer, but there’s not much evidence to support it.

      Ophthalmologists generally say that eye strain is caused by focusing the eyes in one place for too long, and has little to do with the display (I imagine true for a correctly-functioning display, anyway).

      I can say that I haven’t experienced any abnormal eye strain from using it. Does anyone else know more about this? Here’s WSJ article about the issue:

  2. I wanted to buy the Kindle Fire for Christmas last year and people kept telling me to save my money and buy the iPad instead. Now I’m torn.

    • I thought about that too, and it came down to functionality for me. I planned to use the KIndle only to read, so I got the hard-button keyboard version, which helps type comments and bookmarks. I didn’t need a tablet for surfing, photo/video programs, or apps — I don’t use them very much, and when I do, my laptop works great for them. My main workload on my computer is writing, which I couldn’t do on the iPad effectively. All that said, a basic e-reader was the right choice.

      I think if you’re going to use it for internet and other programs, then the Fire / iPad debate can quickly heat up (pun sort of intended). What do you think? Have you heard much about the differences between Fire and iPad? I imagine resolution and software capabilities are the biggies.

  3. I own a Kindle Fire, but I have to say that I do not use it for reading. I use the Kindle mainly for apps. I enjoy reading books the old-fashioned way too much and I sit in front of screens all day long, so I would rather nor begin reading on the Kindle. That is a very interesting use for the Kindle, though. I never would’ve thought to utilize the progress bar as a writing tool for my own work (by seeing how long it takes other writers to get to certain plot points).

  4. Nice point. I wish more of these neo-post-modern-type novelists would invest in a Kindle for that reason. OK, you’re one-third of the way into the thing. Think it might be time to stop describing what the clouds look like and GET ON WITH THE FREAKIN PLOT?

    • Maybe we can start some sort of relief fund to buy them all Kindles. What do you think? We can call it, “Kindles for the Clueless.”
      Keep Writing!
      The world needs good storytellers.

  5. Ahhhh, I’m afraid to say that I don’t agree. I really don’t like the percentage tracker on my kindle – it’s too techno. I really wish I could choose to have page numbers instead! Agree it is a good tool to use as a writer comparing structure, but as a reader, I’m not a fan.

    • I always hated when shows I was watching as a kid would come back from a commercial break and say, “…and now for the conclusion of…” — It always made me feel like the end was near! I think the Kindle progress bar is kind of like that, but I’m able to somehow tune it out.

      I think they’d have to come up with some sort of “If you were reading it in print, you’d be on page X” kind of thing, since it’s not a direct translation of words and pages. I certainly feel that there should be a way to turn it off though, don’t you? I mean, not everyone wants to see that. Silly that one can’t turn it off.

      I’ve got another post called, “The Perfect Moment, Spoiled by a Clock” that relates a similar feeling about how timelessness shouldn’t be timed.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  6. In regards to your opening comments about timing and pacing; have you come across ‘Dramatica’? I have nothing to do with it so this isn’t a plug. It’s a great resource for structuring all aspects of an entire story (including characters) from beginning to end. The creators have made ‘Storymind’ videos and downloads available free on the web. I have Ubuntu on my machine here so can’t use it as ‘Dramatica’ is a Windows/mac kit. But I did find the web resources really useful when working on my Kindle book ‘Cloud’ (yes that was a small plug, sorry, couldn’t help it- oh and it has the first 3D cover too!)
    But getting back to Dramatica; of course what we do as writers is play with the universal themes to carefully craft unexpected twists and turns without losing the reader.
    One thing I really love about writing is the interplay between the unexpected things my characters say and do and my struggle to control their behaviour to articulate and push the story forward in concert so all the elements complete in harmony and with integrity.

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