Monday, June 16, 2014

Reading and Writing

Most writers are book lovers and avid readers from a very young age. It's true for me as well. Some of my fondest memories from my childhood are related to books and reading. My mom would take us on bi-weekly trips to the local library. I always looked forward to those trips with anticipation, eager to find new books to read, new authors to love. Even today, I go to the library every two or three weeks and get out a stack of books.

I love to read, but becoming a writer changed reading for me. As I learned the mechanics of writing such as point of view, passive voice, showing versus telling, and the like, I found myself noticing these things in the books I read. At first it was just a passing notice when point of view changed, or passive voice was used, etc. Unfortunately as I grew as a writer, I had a harder and harder time turning off the editor in my brain.

While I still read a book in a week or so, there are times when I can't read a book because I notice things that a non-writing reader wouldn't necessarily notice.  My sister and I read a lot of the same books. Sometimes, she'll ask me if I've read a certain book and I'll be honest and say that I tried but couldn't finish it because of XYZ and she'll say, "I didn't even notice that." I wish I could turn off my internal editor when I'm reading for pleasure and turn it back on when working on my manuscripts. I'm sure I'm missing out on some great stories because of it.


  1. As a writer, I find I have a hard time turning off my internal editor.
    The big one for me is: 'was' is telling. As I writer and a reader, I recognize the word 'was' is needed, but when I see it repeatedly (like 100 times in 24 pages...I didn't count, I was reading this in wordpro so I used the wordcount function)... then I'm like NOPE, not for me.
    The other turn first editor told me that the characters name should be there about once per page, so if a characters name is repeatedly used, then that's another signal the book isn't for me.
    I have definitely found that since I've become a writer, I don't have time for bad writing, and while I used to struggle to get through a book, now I just stop and say "uh-uh, no more". It's not like there aren't 100 more on my kindle or shelf to choose from.

    1. My first real critique partner taught me the same thing about the overuse of character names. Sometimes if the book is really engrossing, I can get past it, but most of the time I end up putting the book aside or if it's an ebook, sticking it a folder on my Kindle.

      Your comment reminded me of another thing that bothers me - overuse of character names in dialogue. It drives me crazy when the speaking character constantly uses the name of the person they're speaking to. How many people do that in actual, real life conversation? Next to no one.

      I used to struggle to finish books too, now I do the same thing you do. I have a ton of books on my kindle and a 2 subject notebook filled with paperback and hardcover books I want to get out of the library to read. Like you, I have way too many books I want to get read to try and struggle to finish one that I can't enjoy.

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