January 6, 2011 | By: Tracy

Oh Crap! Now, I READ Like a Writer Too

There was a time when I'd hear some actor mumble "I can't watch movies the same way, now that I'm in them" and thought that sounded awfully short-sighted and snobberish. ( <-- It's a word in my world).

Except, now I kinda get what they're saying.

I've been a reader my entire life. But I've only been a reader who's serious about becoming a published author for a little over a year.

I've begun noticing more and more, my opinion of what I consider to be a good book is increasingly altered by the things I'm learning about writing.

With the lone exception of the Twilight Series (which breaks just about every rule of what you should not do), bad writing kills more books for me now than it did two or three years ago. And it's not just stilted or garbled sentences and dialogue that does it.

I'm far less forgiving of weak plots, cliched characters, lack of proper motivation, etc. I get annoyed by numerous things I rarely, if ever, noticed before.

Prime Example: ELIXIR by Hilary Duff.

I was so excited to read that book because of my long-standing girl crush on Miss Hilary. The premise sounded intriguing, especially considering the concept of soulmates & reincarnation is a big theme in my own stories.

At first, I was minorly irritated at how long it took the story to actually START. And when it finally got rolling, the darn thing blasted through a hodge-podge of plot bunnies that felt like something out of a beginner's "How to NaNoWriMo" guide.

But the worse part? The story ended without really ENDING.

Nothing was wrapped up!!

Now, I love reading series. Enjoy writing them too. And it's expected to end on some sort of cliff hanger that leaves readers feeling unsettled. But something has to be resolved. It's a book, not a mini-series for Pete's sake.

Sorry, didn't mean to turn this into a review post.

Point is: once upon a time I might have been fine with a book like Elixir. Now, especially after everything I've learned, it takes a lot more to win my approval . . . and more importantly, my word-of-mouth recommendation to fellow readers.

How about you all? Do you find yourself becoming a more finicky reader than you used to be or can you flip the switch on/off?

14 witty remarks:

Melissa said...

I can't flip it off. I know exactly what you are talking about. I'm so much more critical now then I ever was. Even books I love... it can sounds like I hate them when I talk about them because I notice so many things that are kind of irritating to me.

Sarah said...

This totally happened to me. I notice the awkward sentence constructions and edit in my head. When the mental editor switches off, then I know I'm reading something really good.

Jessica Bell said...

Oh God don't get me started!!! Yes! I'm terrible. I have an opinion about every flipping sentence I read. Someone please help!

Matthew Rush said...

Hilary Duff wrote a book WTF!?!

Being a writer has ruined reading for me too, but those few books that ARE that good, are now even better.

Anne Gallagher said...

Welcome to the writing world. I've been reading all my life and only now have found what it takes to make a great book. Sucks to be sure. I can't read for pleasure anymore.

Misty Waters said...

OMG. Totally there with you. (Hush Hush anyone! Ugh.) And I can't turn off the critiquing for TV shows either! My son will be watching ridiculousness on Nick and I have to critique! Makes my family nuts. I've learned a lot since Twilight, including how NOT to write, which was heartbreaking, but hey, whatever. I still love it.

Colene Murphy said...

Oh no! I was going to get it(have serious girl crush on Hilary too!!!) Now I don't want to taint my feelings of her...lol.

I totally get you though. I read Twilight a while before I got serious about writing and ate it up. Then after I couldn't reread it. lol.

But on the other hand, when you find that OH SO awesome author and their OH SO amazing writing, it's even better.

LTM said...

everybody's talking about reading like a writer today, but you're so right! And you're so right about how things change once you start working in a particular field.

But my take-away is that you're improving as a writer. And just look at all the pitfalls you *won't* be falling into. At least if you spot 'em~ ;p <3

Shannon O'Donnell said...

LOL. I am the same way!! :-)

P.S. I am SOOOOOO ready for baseball!!

Saumya said...

Ah, this happens to me as well!! My inner editor is always on the look out and it's definitely gotten in my way of JUST reading. Hey, that's a great sign that you're always working in a way :) Haha.

Shelley Sly said...

Oh man, I so read like a writer. I can't help it. I can still enjoy reading and look past some little issues here and there, but if I get *too* annoyed, I can't finish the book. What a shame about Hilary Duff's novel. No ending? WTF?

melissa said...

I definitely agree with you. Sometimes when I'm reading I find myself thinking of words or sentences that could have worked better. It's a little frustrating to not be able to just enjoy a book for what it is, but I think it ultimately makes me a better writer.

Katie said...

Oh... this makes me sad! I was totally going to read this one. And I'm like you and I totally love HD! Wow. Thanks for the info though. I would have been seriously upset to purchase that and then be disappointed. I'm not a writer, but as an English teacher, I HATE spending times on books that just aren't really worth it!

Carol Riggs said...

Argh, I can so relate to not being able to read in the same way. It's difficult NOT to notice obvious things. But I try to focus on the good things too. I love me a good description or metaphor, a quirky character, or a breathtaking setting.

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