I’ve taken part recently in a discussion (I read the blog, read all the comments and made a comment of my own–and now can’t remember where it is…and Google isn’t spitting it up) about whether becoming a writer had destroyed my ability to read as a reader. I contend that it mostly has not. Because it hasn’t.
Part of that, I think, is because I’m a very fast reader. The other part, however, has to do with–I think–the fact that I honestly don’t have any idea how I write. I’m not a very structural writer. More intuitive.
No, I do not sit down and just write. I have to have a semblance of a plot outline before I can really jump into the story and get where I want to go. I think this is because I am so VERY disorganized and–well, intuitive–in the way I write, that if I don’t have that minimal amount of structure–a road map, or point-to-point guide–I can’t get anywhere.
But when I’m reading my own stuff, I don’t necessarily know what’s wrong with it. I can usually tell when something’s reading slow, and I need to thin it out. Or cut it entirely. But I’m not real good at analyzing scenes–especially when I’m in the middle of writing them. I just write what feels like needs to be there.
It’s possible I’m more analytical than I realize I am. I do remember writing dialogue scenes and having to stop and go back, because I didn’t get some information in that I wanted revealed, or the characters didn’t say what I wanted them to say. Sometimes, I stop and rearrange all the dialogue, because it doesn’t lead logically from one thought to another. (dialogue doesn’t always, but I do try to keep the non-sequiturs to a minimum.) And sometimes, I cut stuff out, because Somebody already said that once. Or twice. And yes, this happens on the first draft through.
Anyway, I think this relates to my ability to still read as a reader. Sometimes I stumble over things–misused words, or historical anachronisms–but if it’s a good story, it’s not much of a stumble. I keep flying through. Then at the end of the book, I have to stop and think “Okay, what did I really think about that book.” Because sometimes, I reach the end with the feeling that something is just a bit off, or maybe a lot off, and I have to think about why.
I’m in the middle of a book right now, which I have been enjoying less and less as i’ve gotten deeper into it, and I can tell you exactly why. It’s depressing. In the beginning of the book I was willing to give the characters some slack, if they were maybe a little too mean, too callous, too selfish to really like them. There were other, more likeable characters to follow. But then the author killed off the decent characters, had others fall apart, let the roguish character go a little too roguish, and let the bad guys loose to be really, really bad.
I know he’s doing the “dark before the dawn” thing–but I’m only on about p. 1782 (out of 3345–it’s on my Sony reader, and I have the print turned up to medium-this is a really LoNG book), and there’s a lot of dark ahead of me, and there’s only one character left I even sort of like. I’m not sure I have enough reason to finish it. Especially since it’s science fiction, and thus no happy ending guaranteed.
This is why I read, and write romance. Because the characters are likable, and there’s a happy ending.