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Writers Discuss - Reading Part 2 (#27)

  • Member
    December 30, 2015

    Writers Discuss

    Topic #27 – Reading Part 2

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    So most of us here like to write (I hope). We want to become better writers and enjoy the writing we do.

    But as writers... how do we read?



    Here are some questions to consider:

    Has writing changed the way you read?

    How can we let reading help our writing?

    What are some ways we can read critically?

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    If you have any suggestions for future topics include them in the comments section!

  • Member
    December 31, 2015

    I just joined the Tamriel Tales group, and I haven't posted on one of these yet, so I'll give it a go.

    None of my writing has been released to here yet, but I have written many things. I say it gives me appreciation for all the hard work that goes into it, second time around of course. First time around, I read like I did before I took up writing, completely drawn in. (People have to say my name several times to get my nose out of a book, I don't hear them the first time(s.)) 

    We can think like a reader, not a writer. If it is chalk full of lore and theoretical good moments and everything, but you find it a bit lack-luster to read, don't post it! If YOU find it bad, even a little, change it, you have that power. And chances are other readers won't like it as much if you don't like it, because your the creator of it, you probably like it a lot more then most people. So, if you don't love it, but like it a bit, others might find it very boring.

    Depends on what you are reading. If your reading your own work, try to point out every flaw, even minor ones. Attempt to dilate your work, and if it stands up and is unaffected by your very critical observations, it most likely is very good. If your reading someone else's work, try to think what you would have liked to happen instead. Dismiss personal things, like "Oh, I don't like Nords, I would rather he was a Orc.". And don't try to think it would be better if the plot changed, for example in Lissette's story I would have been perfectly happy if no dragon came, and he stayed with the Companions, care free, until Chapter 50. But that would be trying to completely dilate the plot. Use the flaws you find from this, point them out to the creator (Nicely) if it is their work, and if it's their work or yours, no matter what, use it to better your writing.

    I think a discussion on  lore, whether it be sticking to it or breaking to it, and how far you push the limits of the lore (For example, in your blog DOTE where he can focus or spread out his shouts) in your writing. It's one that is more specific to writing in the Tamriel Vault then general writing, but I'm pretty sure you could spare a single post for the website we are on.

  • Member
    January 1, 2016

    As a result of my time writing, I'm quicker to notice sloppy prose and grammatical errors when I read. If you use an adjective twice in a single sentence, count on the fact that I will spot it with the eyes of a friggin' HAWK. I can also see when an author repeats certain phrases or descriptions.

    This often keeps me from reading a lot of things - if I spot too many problems with the prose, I lose interest. 

    I find that I'm able to deconstruct a story and see how the author uses different elements to tell it. I notice character arcs, foreshadowing, how they introduce ideas and pay off on them later. Stories still entertain me, but for slightly different reasons now. I like taking apart a piece of writing and learning from the techniques I read.

    It's impossible for a creative person to experience something and not think "How could I do that? How could I do it better? How could I make it my own?" We read and are influenced. We try to emulate what we see, putting our own unique twists on it. 

    Writing is not some high art form, people don't do it on a pedestal - you can write too. When you read, look at things that are successful, use those formulas, and show yourself that you're capable of creating the same things.  Identify archetypes or structures. Look for what works and what doesn't.

    Something important to consider: try to understand what you personally don't like versus what is objectively bad. Everyone has different tastes, so don't expect to like everything you read, but don't assume everything you hate is inherently bad somehow.

    I absolutely could not get into Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie. Yet the book is a hugo award winner and loved by many fans. I can't judge them for liking it - as a matter of fact, I think I understand why they like it. The story has some really great ideas, a fascinating protagonist, and some thought provoking social messages.

    I may yet try reading it again, but I suspect its just not my cup of tea. Still, I can appreciate that others enjoy it.

    There is a difference between a book doing something poorly and a book that just isn't doing somethingMany stories are subject to inherent restrictions or limitations based on their genre or length. If a short story has a huge cast of characters, how much depth can each character realistically be given? It is also important to remember that expectations play a large role influencing your enjoyment and, by extension, your opinion. Understand what you mean to get out of reading something before you dive in.

  • April 18, 2017

    Has writing changed the way you read?

    I actually read less now that I'm writing, but I read a far greater variety of things when I do. I'm keenly aware of the descriptions, exposition, and prose as those are most interesting to me. How something is described, if anything is described much at all, what effect descriptions create and how much my imagination fills in the gaps are all things I note for when it comes to writing my own descriptions. I pay attention to exposition delivery because while I generally understand how not to do it, I like to see all the ways it can be done. And prose -- I like prose. It's difficult to wrench myself from my natural prose, which for the record I do like, but I'd also like to develop range. I was recently reading a short story anthology by Hnery James and rerally loved his long winded, well-detailed prose with subtle bits of humor throughout. I didn't even know who he was when I picked up the book. I often don't go in with any expectations. Not knowing who I'm reading beforehand helps a whole lot with that. I read to enjoy stories and to learn. 

    How can we let reading help our writing?

    Do what the writers you like do, but better. Learn vocabularly, learn connotation, emulate your favorite writers. 

    What are some ways we can read critically?

    There are entire courses taught on critical reading and more types of criticisms than there are characters allowed in this post. So for creative writing, I suppose the big ones would be: understand how the author's word choice contributes to the purpose of the story; if you like something, try to articulate what you like about it to understand and use it in your own writing; if you want to go deeper, learn about the author and whether any potential biases contributed to that author's worldview -- this will help you reflect on your own biases when world-building. This is helpful because it releases you from the box that all your stories start in and can give you more story-telling range in the long run. 

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