How I Read

Coming back to my previous post about what I’m reading, I got to thinking about how I read.

As a writer, we are encouraged to read widely, both in and out of our chosen genre. We’re supposed to analyze the first 50 pages, diagram sentences, delve into plot development and characterization.

To all that I say “OH PLEASE.” And “Pffft! You’ve GOT to be kidding me.”

Yeah, I’m that writer.

How YOU doin'?

How YOU doin’?

I read for entertainment, to be swept away and taken away from my mundane existence. But I’m consistent — I also go to movies for escape. I avoid thought-provoking and depressing films in favor of hilarious rom-coms. I’ll take a good Hugh Jackman action/adventure over Jews in WWII anytime.

When I read, I’m along for the ride and I don’t want to dig into how the car works.

I do pay a little bit of attention. I know what I enjoy reading and I try to incorporate those same things into my writing. I like strong female characters, a touch of romance and any historical aspects in a story. But I don’t sit down and scribble in margins (sacrilege!), put the plot into a spreadsheet to emulate a formula, or analyze first lines. The closest I ever got to something like that was a prompt I ran across that encouraged me to find a favorite passage in someone else’s work and then re-type it in order to get a hands-on feel for the rhythm and pace. It was kind of fun to “write” a piece of best-selling fiction!

Would I be a better writer if I analyzed everything? Probably. Would I be a happier reader? Definitely not.

Call me shallow, call me immature, just don’t call me in the middle of a chapter.

6 Comments on “How I Read”

  1. While I still read for enjoyment, I’ve found that since I started writing and even more since I started Lone Mountain Writers, I lose patience if a book isn’t well-written. I feel I’m wasting my time if the author isn’t better at some aspect of writing than I am. Ya know? If the language is glorious, or the characters and voice unique, I’ll let the plot sag a bit. If the plot has hooked me, the I’m more forgiving of the other stuff. I don’t analyze but I notice.

  2. Joan says:

    I’m hosed, what with my sagging plot and all…

  3. Of course, if I know and like the author I tend to trust that it will be worth my time. Go Josie!

  4. And TIES lacks plot—or so I’ve been told. Repeatedly. Grrrr. How can I recognize it in others and not be able to do it myself?

  5. Joan says:

    I think you have a plot! It’s a great story! Maybe we should start our own critique group – the Mutual Admiration Society!

  6. Happily. Or maybe we can just look to each other for a sympathetic “there-there” after the next brutal critique.