January 28, 2012

Reading like a writer

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 6:30 pm
Tags: , , ,

I’ve been reading less lately. Something about my selection or mood has just left me uninspired, so when a friend gave me a book and told me to read it, I was apprehensive. But as a good trooper, I gave it a shot. Fifty pages in, I put the book down for the night, impressed and excited, and then didn’t pick it up again for days. That pull that I’m used to feeling didn’t occur. But it wasn’t until my friend asked what I thought about the book that I realized what was different.

“I love the dialogue,” I said. “Every character has a unique voice that holds my interest. And I like that the writer isn’t afraid to dump us into the world and expect us to keep up. Too often, fantasy novels over-explain things. I also like the way the writer introduces his subplots slowly…” And then I saw what I’d been doing: I’d been reading like a writer.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with doing this. That’s part of how we learn our craft, after all. But there’s no wonder that I haven’t gotten hooked on any of the books I’ve been reading when I’ve placed them under a lens and dissected them into story arch, main and sub plots, dialogue, characters and world building.

So how do you do it? How do you remember to let go of your inner editor and just enjoy the book that’s in front of you? Help me out here. I miss reading like a reader.



  1. I think all creative professionals experience this to some degree; you start to focus exclusively on the craft that goes into making the experience. I know I do when it comes to games. I also don’t think, once you’ve got the eye for it, you can ever totally switch off your inner editor, but what you can do is choose when it’s worth paying attention to what it has to say. For me it sometimes involves a phase: “I’ve learned what’s going on, I understand it, NOW I can stop figuring it out and actually have fun!”

    Comment by Graeme Lennon — January 28, 2012 @ 6:46 pm | Reply

  2. I still enjoy reading but I pause to savor good writing and pinpoint what is working. I think of it as an evolution in how I read. I’m even more drawn into a story and I like being able to articulate what I think about the story.

    Comment by Kourtney Heintz — January 30, 2012 @ 12:27 am | Reply

    • Articulating is good. I’ll try to turn it around and instead of being wistful about how I used to mindlessly accept things, be grateful that I now know what works and what doesn’t.

      Comment by nascentnovelist — January 31, 2012 @ 7:08 pm | Reply

  3. I do this with most newspaper and magazine articles, way too many of the academic articles I read (although it’s good to be critical about research, I probably shouldn’t be too focused on elements like whether the title is creative), and of course every front page, online or paper.

    Comment by accordingtojulie — February 1, 2012 @ 6:12 am | Reply

    • Hehe. Yeah, I guess it’s an occupational hazard for many people. Good to know I’m not alone though.

      Comment by nascentnovelist — February 1, 2012 @ 11:32 pm | Reply

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