BEST READER, WORST ENEMY, a Craft Essay by Claire Rudy Foster

There are two kinds of important reader: the one who hates you, and the one who understands you.

When I write, I come to the page knowing that someone will probably hate what I produce. In fact, I count on this. As I work, I read each sentence as though I am my own worst enemy. Zadie Smith says to “try to read your own work as a stranger would read it, or even better, as an enemy would.” That means that every adorable turn of phrase—everything that I thought was so smart—gets bullied out of the final copy.