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Old 12-06-2013, 01:21 AM   #16
Lima Bean
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If the characters and plot line grab me, my writer's persona evaporates, time ceases to exist, and I lose myself in the story.

If a book bores me, then I start to focus on its flaws. It's not intentional though.
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Old 12-06-2013, 01:43 AM   #17
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Not really. Im not talking about grammatical errors. Im talking about learning how to write fiction. You dont just do that without learning how. And how is from studying stories.
Yep. Some say the classics are outdated (as far as models to study) but you can still learn something of how a story is put together (IMO) by reading the works of those who have gone before like Doyle, Wells, Twain, etc.
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Old 12-06-2013, 02:22 AM   #18
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Im not sure i understood what you just wrote.
I have had trouble reading most fiction because i can't suspend disbelief. My mind doesn't accept the basic premises of story-telling. I've been told that this is some sort of psychological pathology. It comes and goes and i can work around the problem by reading for method or sound or images. Reading in other languages helps, too
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Old 12-07-2013, 10:26 AM   #19
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As a professional writer, editor and teacher of writing, it is difficult for me to separate them out when I read. I don't read books that have sloppy mistakes, as before I could read them, I would have to edit them, and sometimes, totally rewrite them. Too much work for nothing! It takes an exceptional book to take me completely out of my modes and my world.
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Old 12-07-2013, 01:34 PM   #20
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Here's what Stephen King says in On Writing:

Quote:
If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There's no way around these two things that I'm aware of, no shortcut.

I'm a slow reader, but I usually get through seventy or eighty books a year, mostly fiction. I don't read in order to study the craft; I read because I like to read. It's what I do at night, kicked back in my blue chair. Similarly, I don't read fiction to study the art of fiction, but simply because I like stories. Yet there is a learning process going on. Every book you pick up has its own lesson or lessons, and quite often the bad books have more to teach than the good ones.
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Old 12-07-2013, 05:27 PM   #21
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I don't think I can turn off my critical judgement. However, I seem to be gifted with the ability to step outside my own boundaries. A lot of people at the writing group I frequent, when offering comments on a member's work, seem to talk not about what could be improved with the writer's work, but, rather, how they would have done it differently. As long as a work is done well, it doesn't matter if it is done differently than I would have written it. That's actually helpful to me in expanding my boundaries.

Now, on a related note, I'd like to ask those here if they feel that the writer in them has resulted in them abandoning more books than they did before they started writing. Personally, I have no qualms now about not finishing something lacklustre. Too many good books to read that I need to get to.
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Old 12-07-2013, 05:32 PM   #22
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I'm absolutely ruthless about dropping anything that doesn't hold my interest not just because of writing, but because there are too many great things to read that I feel no qualms in abandoning anything. Life is too short.
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Old 12-07-2013, 11:45 PM   #23
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This is a very important question since we all struggle with it, and it's even worse when you go to grad school since then you are trained to read like a literary scholar/professor. Whenever I sit down to read a book, I'm a professor (who grades for a living) and a scholar (with a head full of literary theory), yet also a passionate lover of reading. Some of my friends claim that this has ruined reading for them; they lament they rarely read for pleasure anymore, and everything has to be geared toward their research or their class. For me, however, I find that (as other people have suggested) I can turn the critical focus on and off to some degree. I can sit down and enjoy Young Adult fiction, for example, and not expect it to convey the latest trends of postcolonial thought. In short, I almost always read for sheer enjoyment...however, my definition of enjoyment has been shaped by years of being a writer (both of fiction and more academic writing) as well as being a teacher. I think I most enjoy good writing even above a good story, at at times, even of characters. Style, strong sentences, and a way with words simply weighs more heavily with me now, and even an arresting story can lose my interest if the language is spare and uninteresting. Right now, I'm reading an old novel which is written so beautifully, though it's a bit derivative and has cardboard characters; and yet, I keep reading since the writer is talented and I marvel at her ability to weave her narrative and delight me with new ways of saying the same old things. This is the curse of reading like a writer--or a teacher, I suppose--but at the same time, I'm glad I can see and appreciate these qualities. When I started reading seriously as a teenager, these qualities were almost completely lost on me as I sought story above all; but stories, in the end, are only a small part of what brings me back to a book these days. I need writing first and foremost. After all, even Shakespeare's stories are borrowed and often very implausible--even unsatisfying. But the writing!
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Old 12-08-2013, 12:50 AM   #24
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It is rare that I don't finish something that I start. I justify this partly by the fact that some truly excellent books have less than perfect beginnings (LotR is to some extent guilty of this, as just one example, there are many others), I further justify it by the fact that some writing takes time to grow accustomed to (many classics fit this, as do various "literary" authors). The real truth behind it is probably just that I have something of an obsessive nature.

That approach to reading books hasn't changed much since my writing has become a more serious habit/compulsion.

I like to think my writing has increased my appreciation for some books, it has given me some insight as to why I enjoy some more than others. And when those books are kids books I feel a bit like Professor Frink on The Simpsons playing with a kids' toy, and telling the girl: "No, you can't play with it; you won't enjoy it on as many levels as I do."
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Old 12-08-2013, 11:36 AM   #25
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I'm not a writer, I'm a reader.
But lately I've noticed on several occasions with several different self-published writers, that they tend to read in order to "dissect". They extrapolate, what to do, what not to do, what is bad and so on, from books of authors that are 10x more successful then them. At times, they come across as arrogant even.
But in all of that they forget to read and enjoy the story. Or so it seems to me from their feedback which often times looks more like an analysis of how to write a profitable novel, than their opinion on the book in question.
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Old 12-08-2013, 07:02 PM   #26
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Geralt, I have noticed some book review blogs, where the blog owner is a also writer, a tendency to review a book in terms of how they would have written the story, and designed the cover and so on, rather than reviewing what was provided. An occupational hazard, I guess - in some cases such sites are from people offering advice to fellow authors, so in such cases I suppose this is a matter of getting what you asked for (sort of).
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Old 12-09-2013, 11:55 AM   #27
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I wish I could answer that question. I mean it's difficult for me because I've thrown out so many of my favorite books. (Please don't condemn me. It was a question of allergies and asthma.) But how I wish I had access still to some of my favorite recent novels. For me that means these works by John Grisham: The Client, The Summons, The Testament, The Chamber. I loved each of them! But they were written before I started writing. I'd love to reread them now. I suspect they'd resonate as well with me now as they did then.
I also, not too long ago, read the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. I could not put the books down, although, with all due respect, I best loved the first book. Anyway, I still enjoy reading. I always will.
God bless writers!
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Old 12-15-2013, 06:48 PM   #28
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I'm absolutely ruthless about dropping anything that doesn't hold my interest not just because of writing, but because there are too many great things to read that I feel no qualms in abandoning anything. Life is too short.
Ah, but then you probably learned something of what doesn't work in a book. So even the books that a person drops are useful in that they teach us what not to do as much as what does work in books that do hold interest.
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Old 12-15-2013, 07:04 PM   #29
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Ah, but then you probably learned something of what doesn't work in a book. So even the books that a person drops are useful in that they teach us what not to do as much as what does work in books that do hold interest.
Yes, there's perhaps more to learn from a book that doesn't work than from one that does.
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