Thursday, March 05, 2009

Reading like a reader

Reading like a reader is a gift.
Before I started writing seriously, I always read like a reader. It is why I love fiction – its ability to immerse me in worlds and characters. Then as I studied the craft of fiction writing, the reading like a reader came to be harder. I wanted to know how other authors crafted their work. So I began to read like a writer or an editor. After finishing any book, I wrote a synopsis. Eventually I began to notice the craft far more than the story. It is one of the downsides of being a writer. Inevitable, I suppose.
But I also discovered that I missed the excitement and thrill of reading fiction. I still wanted to glory in the beauty of the rainbow, even though I knew the why behind it. I found myself watching more television. But the internal editor started to filter through to movies and television shows.
Then I had a conversation with my editor and how they were trained to read like readers first, and editors second. In order to understand how to edit, you had to understand the readers’ responses. It was a lightbulb moment. I could do this as well.
So once again, I tried to retrain. Rather than critiquing everything, I tried simply to experience. And yes, it was hard. But the enjoyment came back into my reading. Yes, I can see the craft and sometimes, you have to wonder why certain editors did not point out certain things. But I suspect people could say that about my books...
Recently, my daughter had to make her A level choices. In the English school system, at sixteen, students have to decide which four subjects they are going to take for the next two years. Then when they apply to university, they apply to study a specific subject and it can be very hard to change your major. Very different from the American system which I experienced. Anyway, she deciding against taking English because one of the major works studied is Pride and Prejudice which is one of her favourite novels. Her reasoning was that she wanted to keep loving the book, and she knew that studying it would mean that she would end up hating it. She is taking science instead. I am just pleased that my daughter knows the value of reading like a reader.

I am not doing a contest this month as I am off to Venice for a few days. BUT all next week, Barbara Vey who blogs on Publisher’s Weekly about romance is having a huge blow out party with giveaways from hundreds of romance authors. So you might want to check out her blog.


Donna Alward said...

I fight with reading like a reader. What I love is when a book pulls me in and makes me forget I'm a writer. But if I'm not pulled in then I really notice things.

I read The DaVinci Code like a reader and I loved it. If I had read it like a writer it would have driven me crazy and at the end I could definitely see the flaws. But I was pulled in just the same. I read another book recently that had flaws but pulled me along anyway. I think what it comes down to is strong storytelling. If you are a good storyteller, I can overlook a lot of things. There are a lot of books that are not technically perfect but I've enjoyed immensely, while others that were written really tightly didn't hold my interest at all.

And also- what turns one person on won't another. I'm figuring that out big time! There are lots of books I haven't liked that others have loved.

Michelle Styles said...

But it is an important gift. And sometimes, I think before you start writing you do not realise how important it is.
Sometimes it is great not analyse rainbows to death.

Tara Pammi said...

I would love to read without analyzing. Surprisingly, it's only romance I've realized I analyze when I'm reading.

Which is a sad fact but I used to guzzle them up and now it takes me forever because I stop in the middle and analyze too much.

Maureen said...

I hope you enjoy Venice!

Pat Cochran said...

I read "like a reader" because that
is who I am, but occasionally my
once-upon-a-time newspaper writing
creeps in.

Oh, lovely Venice! Honey and I
enjoyed a trip there years ago.
We often say we will go back to
see those parts of the city which
we didn't see!

Pat Cochran

Anonymous said...

Hope you have a great time.

Helen said...

I am not a writer so I read like a reader and truly love reading, romance are just the best I don't know what I would do if I couldn't read.

Have a great time in Venice

Have Fun

Michelle Styles said...

Sri -- Yes, when you first start writing, you end up reading like a writer of whatever genre.

I am glad that I have now forced myself to stat reading like a reader again.

And I am planning on enjoying Venice. It is one of the places I have always longed to go.

The Brunette Librarian said...

Party hearty! :)