Monday, April 11, 2011

When Writing Changes How You Read

All the things I'm learning about structure and writing are starting to sink in. Maybe a little too much. I'm having trouble just reading to enjoy. Instead this is what happens:

1. The opening lines and paragraphs of the books I read are beginning to sound like they are all constructed the same way.

2. I keep thinking about what the main character's goal is and what the obstacles are.

3. I notice the author's use of interesting phrases and stop to consider how they fit with the writing style.

4. I think about how the author uses details or dialogue to enhance the characters.

Does this happen to you? I love being a writer, but at some point, I hope I can get back to reading just to enjoy a story. I'm not sure there is any turning back now, though.


  1. Yep. I have the same problem. I am much more easily pulled out of a story, and then I stop to analyze why. Reading isn't quite as enjoyable as it was when I just lost myself in the story.

  2. It's unavoidbale but it does get less over time. Much harder to enjoy a bad book though.
    Moody Writing

  3. I have the same problem, too, although I've learned to let it lie under the surface a little more so it's not quite as interruptive. I have more trouble with books in the genre I'm trying (and not succeeding!) to write - MG and YA - then with, for example, adult books. At the moment, I am less bothered by what writers could have done better than by how amazingly well everyone else seems to write - it's one of those periods of feeling discouraged, I'm afraid!

  4. Yes, I think this happens to every writer. And i won't read a book that I can't get past the first chapter, but, when I find an well written book then I can enjoy it all the more!

  5. I do that too--it's been hard to just sink into a novel. The only recent one where I completely forgot about looking at the crafting of the book was a middle grade book called Falling In by Frances O'Roark Dowell :)

  6. I completely understand. Lately I have to turn off my internal editor when I read. It's hard though. Especially when there is a lot of telling or passive voice.

    Overall I take it as a good sign that hopefully my writing has gotten better.

  7. I'm so with you on this. I can't help dissecting books more these days, and little mistakes or flaws really pull me out of a story. Big flaws annoy me too, obviously, but at least they're something I can learn from.

    But something has to be REALLY good to sweep me away nowadays. Even if it's almost perfect, I can always think of ways the writer could've made it better. Maybe I should become an editor instead :D

  8. This is so true. I come across books that I recommended highly years ago, and when I reread them, I'm surprised I thought they were so great.


  9. Debbie, I never thought of that. I hope this doesn't destroy the feelings I have about my favourites, the next time I read them.

    Ha! Girl Friday, I agree, a book does have to be really good for me to get caught up in the story.

    For me, it's not so much that I'm being critical about the writing, though I do sometimes put down a book where the writing annoys me. It's just that I'm noticing the structure, plot elements, phrasing, etc. in all the books I read. Definitely a good sign for writing, Brooke.

    I might switch to reading a few adult books for change, Susanna.

    Thanks for the recommendation, Jess! I'll look for that one.

  10. I have the same problem, too, but I find that I only do it when I read my genre. When I read, say, MG books, I just go along for the ride (I almost typed "read" there HAHA). But when I read YA, I find myself looking for structure. Unless the book itself is so captivating that I lose myself in it completely and read the whole 350 pages in one sitting, that is. But that doesn't happen too often :)

    East for Green Eyes


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