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Old 12-05-2013, 10:53 AM   #1
kennyc
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Reading like a Writer?

Do you think 'Reading like/as a Writer' has affected you ability (either positive or negative) to enjoy fiction?

There is a IMO a great book by Francine Prose with that title: http://www.amazon.com/Reading-Like-W.../dp/0060777052
which I highly recommend. (along the same lines: The Making of a Story by Alice LaPlante - http://www.amazon.com/The-Making-Sto...6255036&sr=1-1)

I've heard this question brought up in various contexts from science to engineering to writing. (There is well-known video/essay by Feynman about appreciating a Rose as a physicist/scientist)

I personally kind of go back and forth on it. I believe that at one point a couple of decades back when I was extremely serious about becoming a SF writer that I got to a point where I could not read for pleasure as I would always be analyzing. I think I've overcome it in the mean time, but do kind of waffle -- which I found myself doing a bit in my reading of MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood over the last week. I truly enjoyed the story but found myself on occasion (as I do when reading shorter fiction as well) considering the construction of the novel, the plot, the characters, the words....

All is good I think but I'm just wondering if other writers find themselves in a similar position.

Has your being a writer affected you ability to enjoy being a reader?
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Old 12-05-2013, 11:27 AM   #2
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Yes, writing has definitely affected my reading. Regrettably (predictably?) the effect is a little biased. Very good books I read pretty much as I always used to, and consequently don't necessarily learn as much about what makes them good as I possibly could. It has mainly been lesser books where I notice the change, phrasing and techniques that stand out - as I'm reading - and so my mind wanders off the story to the issues of writing (and wondering if I'm guilty of the same ).

Even with good books I am more analytical now (after the fact) than I used to be, but this actually changed before I started to take my writing more seriously - in fact I think it was one thing that led to taking it more seriously.

So I still enjoy good books, and at least I feel as if I am learning more from lesser books, so overall I think the impact has been good.
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Old 12-05-2013, 01:25 PM   #3
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One thing that I've found (by reading fan fiction) is that you can learn to read like an editor. Some have very few errors and some are riddled with them. I've not found that it has had an adverse effect on my reading pleasure though.
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Old 12-05-2013, 01:30 PM   #4
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One thing that I've found (by reading fan fiction) is that you can learn to read like an editor. Some have very few errors and some are riddled with them. I've not found that it has had an adverse effect on my reading pleasure though.
Yeah, I can see that, but it's a bit different than what I was getting at. Not sure fan fiction has anything to do with it other than perhaps fan fiction is riddled with grammatical errors. I tend to think of that kind of editing (technical editing?) as a different skill than storytelling though. It's the storytelling aspects that I'm more concerned with and how that has affected you as a reader -- perhaps not at all, eh?
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Old 12-05-2013, 03:00 PM   #5
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I can turn it off or on, mostly by choice. Reading like a writer is not as much fun, too much technical dissection along the way. If I choke on some passage I do have a hard time resisting stopping to figure out why I didn't like it.

Same deal for listening to Jazz if you're trained in the technical side of it. You need to turn off your analysis if you want to enjoy the music.
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Old 12-05-2013, 06:44 PM   #6
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Mostly I can switch it off when I read, but sloppy writing does stand out a lot more than it used to.
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Old 12-05-2013, 09:41 PM   #7
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Quote:
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Yeah, I can see that, but it's a bit different than what I was getting at. Not sure fan fiction has anything to do with it other than perhaps fan fiction is riddled with grammatical errors. I tend to think of that kind of editing (technical editing?) as a different skill than storytelling though. It's the storytelling aspects that I'm more concerned with and how that has affected you as a reader -- perhaps not at all, eh?
Touche, though writing a fan fiction can help you develop your writing skills to a degree. I mean you have the characters and setting all laid out already (though you need to develop that with an original work) and writing it can help you to see where you need to work to improve your own writing skills.
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Old 12-05-2013, 10:07 PM   #8
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I don't think I meant that the way you took it. But I see what you are saying as well, with fan fiction the 'world', the situation etc is already composed, that part of the writing is done.
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Old 12-05-2013, 10:48 PM   #9
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I read like a reader, unless something in the writing makes me look at it like a writer. Usually it's something that knocks me out of the story and I have to figure out what it is before I can get back into it.

As for writing fan fiction, I think I'd find that harder than writing something fresh.
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Old 12-05-2013, 10:51 PM   #10
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I read like a reader, unless something in the writing makes me look at it like a writer. Usually it's something that knocks me out of the story and I have to figure out what it is before I can get back into it.

As for writing fan fiction, I think I'd find that harder than writing something fresh.
Are you saying you don't analyze and study stories at all in order to learn from them?
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Old 12-05-2013, 10:56 PM   #11
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Are you saying you don't analyze and study stories at all in order to learn from them?

Nope. I read to read, and I write to write. They are different activities - both of which I enjoy. Errors have to be pretty grievous for me to notice them when I am in reader mode.
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Old 12-05-2013, 11:15 PM   #12
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Eh, well, it's the only way i can read. If anything, i started reading more fiction after dabbling in writing it. I had trouble suspending disbelief, but reading for method allows me to get through narration that would otherwise have me suspend my reading.
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Old 12-05-2013, 11:21 PM   #13
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Nope. I read to read, and I write to write. They are different activities - both of which I enjoy. Errors have to be pretty grievous for me to notice them when I am in reader mode.
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.
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Old 12-05-2013, 11:23 PM   #14
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Eh, well, it's the only way i can read. If anything, i started reading more fiction after dabbling in writing it. I had trouble suspending disbelief, but reading for method allows me to get through narration that would otherwise have me suspend my reading.
Im not sure i understood what you just wrote.
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Old 12-05-2013, 11:29 PM   #15
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Are you saying you don't analyze and study stories at all in order to learn from them?
I learn by osmosis. I'm lousy at analyzing. I go by "feel."
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