Can you believe how quickly another month has whizzed by? It’s time once again for our monthly question from the Insecure Writers’ Support Group. IWSG is a great resource for all us scribblers, and I’ve really enjoyed meeting other writers via this blog exchange. Give them a look here and join the conversation:
Our question for February: How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?
- Being a writer has reduced the amount of fiction I read, because I’m busy writing, or reading about writing. I’m working to change that, because reading widely makes me a better writer. It also teaches me about publishing trends, as well as changing tastes in fiction. And it’s fun. With all the dire news landing with juicy splats all around me, I find myself reaching for love stories, comedy, and other light-hearted literary diversions.
- Being a writer has made me a more critical reader. Having gobbled so many workshops, books, blogs, and magazines about the craft of writing fiction, I’m now much quicker to notice craft elements that, if mishandled, dampen a story’s impact. During my many years of teaching high school English classes, I looked at stories primarily from a reader’s point of view. If a story didn’t grab me, I just set it aside without much thought as to why it left me flat. But having studied the craft of writing from a writer’s point of view, I’m much more aware of issues like:
- Characters who talk alike
- Stories knitted together out of boring, predictable clichés
- Protagonists I just can’t relate to, or whose actions don’t make sense
- Lengthy flashbacks that don’t move the story forward
- Long pauses in the narrative to insert info-dumps
- Formulaic writing, such as ending every scene with a breath-taking cliffhanger
- Purple prose and thesaurus abuse: writing that distracts me from the story rather than enhancing its impact
The good news is that because I notice these issues in others’ writing, I’m less likely to commit these crimes in my own work. So I hope, anyway.
So, what have you been reading lately, and has it helped your writing?