Tuesday, 19 June 2007

When Writers Read as Writers


I used to read for pleasure -- voraciously, in fact. I'd grab whatever was on the shelf -- romance, science fiction, fantasy, mystery -- and be satisfied with whatever I scarfed down. I even raided my kids' shelves and re-read all the YA they had.

Now, I have six books sitting on my end table, each partly read. For some reason, I can't get into any of them. I keep finding little nuances like passive voice, head-hopping, info dumping, dragging plots. I'm reading like a writer, and it's bugging me. I want to read purely for enjoyment, but I can't. It seems to require almost as much concentration as writing.

Mind you, in the last few months I have managed to read a few lovely novels that held my attention to the end. I was drawn into the story and forgot all about looking for those little Cardinal Writing Sins.

Why am I having such difficulty? Is it lack of spare time? Is it the fact that I'm at that magic spot between publishing one book and trying to find a home for the next one? Do I feel obliged to pick apart every book I read in order to improve my own craft, or to research genres to see where I fit in?

Summer is upon us. I gotta relax and just read, darn it.

8 comments:

bunnygirl said...

That's why I mostly read narrative non-fiction these days. Trying to read novels is often just too frustrating!

Chumplet said...

Oh, gosh... I forgot. I still have to read The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail. I got it for Christmas because my kids got it mixed up with the first Dan Brown novel. I think I made it into the second chapter.

Bernita said...

There's this little switch...see?...just above your left ear...

Chumplet said...

Is it beside the bar code?

Anonymous said...

Chumplet, your critique group has lerned ya an the habit is hard to kik...

In anywun wonts to no, Im wun of her critque pardners.

Mi name is pennyoz. i fink i made her inta a yoo-beauty critic so she cant reed any more 4 pleshure.

hugs to Chumplet from pennyoz

Chumplet said...

Yes, you gals learned me real good.

Hugs to you too, pardner!

Leslie said...

GAH!! And here I thought I was the ONLY one who did that. heheheh..riiight. Alas, I'm afraid it's our bane, m'dear. Now that we've moved the curtain aside, we know how it all works, and it's hard going back to the naive reader we once were. Sigh. And I'd give anything to go back to how it used to be. I used to read EVERYTHING.... books, cereal boxes, Burrito wrappers... cry... now I do well to read a fortune cookie without editing it. But I have found a few authors that suck me in so completely into their writing, that I totally overlook all the red flags that normally go up (head hopping, passive tense, etc). So I can tell you honestly, IT CAN BE DONE! ;-)
*HUGS*
Leslie

wordtryst said...

That's becoming a problem for me too! I'm reading much more analytically, and seeing all the goofs. Some I overlook, but every now and then I just have to give up on some book.

Thankfully, there are still many books that are so well written they grab me by the throat and don't jolt me out of the story. Paradoxically, these are the ones where I'd like to notice the writing, but I don't because I'm lost in the story.