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snc84
03-15-2013, 09:21 AM
After starting my WIP and being almost 90,000 words into it, I decided to take a break tonight and read a new book for enjoyment's sake. Since I joined AW, and have been teaching myself through research what makes up a good story, plotting, subplots, info-dumping, showing vs telling, more correct grammar, my writing has improved greatly.

However, I almost can't get through this book I'm reading. The story is great and everything but there is telling, incorrect punctuation, jumpy action, info-dumping, an ever expanding cast of nonessential characters and extraneous description of passing characters. None of this would had bothered me three months ago, but now it is all I can see!!! I'm kinda sad that I'm not enjoying my quiet night more but at the same time, if this person could get their book published, I have more hope for myself.

Has anyone had this moment before? Is it just bad editing and a single instance or am I just more aware now that I have been exposed to "the rules"?

Kerosene
03-15-2013, 09:24 AM
Congratulations... er...

Yeah, typical shit.

You can either search the world for books that'll fit your criteria.

Or just relearn to enjoy them, as no one can write the perfect book, so just get to used to it.



Wait until you find a book that'll blow you away, and the feeling is much more powerful now that you know why it's so amazing.

French Maiden
03-15-2013, 09:34 AM
Switch the writer in you off and enjoy.

After I joined AW I had the same problem. But for me it's like there is a switch I can switch subconsciously. I just flick the switch from editor and writer to avid reader and I'm usually all good. I read the book for what it is, not what it should be.

onesecondglance
03-15-2013, 02:01 PM
I've gone through this at various stages. After my English degree I couldn't stop analysing themes and character arcs, looking for underlying metaphors... I learned to turn it off. I can still turn it on when I want it, but it no longer gets in the way of my enjoyment.

It'll take a little time, but it'll move out of your conscious mind into your unconscious. Don't sweat it and keep reading!

Bufty
03-15-2013, 02:08 PM
Can't say that writing has ruined my reading enjoyment at all.

If I'm reading I read for enjoyment. If something leaps out at me as being 'odd' I might notice it, but I'm not consciously looking for anything 'wrong'.

The only place I do notice grammar and punctuation and clarity isues that make me cringe is when browsing the first few pages of stuff in Amazon - usually self-published material.

shaldna
03-15-2013, 02:12 PM
I've gone through this at various stages. After my English degree I couldn't stop analysing themes and character arcs, looking for underlying metaphors... I learned to turn it off. I can still turn it on when I want it, but it no longer gets in the way of my enjoyment.




I was the same, both during my A levels and then later when I took Literature. I found that I HATED books for a while. :(

feather
03-15-2013, 02:18 PM
I struggled with reading new books until I managed to separate my writing self from my reading self. I'm not an editor hired to improve the book I'm reading, and I'm not supposed to re-write them the way I would have written them, and reminding myself of that helps me enjoy the books for what they are.

One thing I notice now is that I've started judging books differently. I don't give them the same chance I used to, but that might just be because I don't have as much time to read. If a book becomes great after fifty pages, I'll never know because I won't give them more than ten pages to hook me in. I've also stopped reading blurbs and started reading the first pages of the book instead. Too many great books have bad blurbs, and a great blurb doesn't mean I'll enjoy the author's writing style.

Polenth
03-15-2013, 02:28 PM
Another thing to beware is that you're not becoming overly fond of 'the rules'. If you never tell, your writing is going to be a wordy bloated mess of trivial detail and needless scenes. If you never describe anything the reader doesn't absolutely need, your world may end up coming across as rather flat. If you never explain anything to the reader, it might be confusing. The rules are only intended as guidelines about things people often overdo. It doesn't mean the things they describe should never be done. If the story works (and if it's great and you'd otherwise enjoy it if you weren't worrying about rules, that suggests it works) then it doesn't matter if it hits a checklist of rules.

Things like spelling and punctuation are different issues. Books should get those right, but even big publishers let some mistakes through.

ap123
03-15-2013, 03:33 PM
Another thing to beware is that you're not becoming overly fond of 'the rules'. If you never tell, your writing is going to be a wordy bloated mess of trivial detail and needless scenes. If you never describe anything the reader doesn't absolutely need, your world may end up coming across as rather flat. If you never explain anything to the reader, it might be confusing. The rules are only intended as guidelines about things people often overdo. It doesn't mean the things they describe should never be done. If the story works (and if it's great and you'd otherwise enjoy it if you weren't worrying about rules, that suggests it works) then it doesn't matter if it hits a checklist of rules.

Things like spelling and punctuation are different issues. Books should get those right, but even big publishers let some mistakes through.

This is an excellent point! And I've had the same experience as the others, when I first started writing it became hard to read, I was either tearing my hair out because my writing would never be "that good," or pretty much sitting down to read with a red pen. It settles down. :)

aixsponsa
03-15-2013, 03:50 PM
This has happened to me as well. When I read, I try to focus on the important thing—story. But if there are too many things I see as errors, I mentally correct them in my head and try to learn from what I perceive as others' mistakes.

Example: I never knew about info-dumping before I started writing and came here. Recently, I tried to read The Plains of Passage by Jean Auel, and had to bail out in the second chapter because of the massive amounts of info-dumping. I found it unreadable and boring to the extreme.

Lissibith
03-15-2013, 04:03 PM
I guess it was the opposite for me. First studying creative writing in college and then further learning the art of writing through practice and sites like this has led me to getting a lot more out of reading even bad books. I used to know if I didn't enjoy a book, but wasn't able to understand why. But now, there's a certain fun in picking apart the details for me and working out where things could have gone right. :)

kkbe
03-15-2013, 04:04 PM
I'm more aware now, just as I'm noticing how so many tv shows, movies, etc., have to do w/ writers/writing.

One nifty thing: I recognize stellar writing now. Sometimes I come across a sentence and it's just so perfect. I imagine the writer knew it, too. I imagine he wrote it and thought, Damn, that's really good. I'm proud of that one.

Roger J Carlson
03-15-2013, 05:08 PM
The story is great and everything but there is telling, incorrect punctuation, jumpy action, info-dumping, an ever expanding cast of nonessential characters and extraneous description of passing characters.And yet, "the story is great." Why do you suppose that is?

ebbrown
03-15-2013, 05:10 PM
Another thing to beware is that you're not becoming overly fond of 'the rules'. If you never tell, your writing is going to be a wordy bloated mess of trivial detail and needless scenes. If you never describe anything the reader doesn't absolutely need, your world may end up coming across as rather flat. If you never explain anything to the reader, it might be confusing. The rules are only intended as guidelines about things people often overdo. It doesn't mean the things they describe should never be done. If the story works (and if it's great and you'd otherwise enjoy it if you weren't worrying about rules, that suggests it works) then it doesn't matter if it hits a checklist of rules.



I agree. It's tough to switch it off sometimes and just enjoy the book in your hand. When you write, you have such a limited amount of time to read, you have to make it worthwhile.

quicklime
03-15-2013, 05:30 PM
....
However, I almost can't get through this book I'm reading. The story is great and everything but there is telling, incorrect punctuation, jumpy action, info-dumping, an ever expanding cast of nonessential characters and extraneous description of passing characters. None of this would had bothered me three months ago, but now it is all I can see!!! I'm kinda sad that I'm not enjoying my quiet night more but at the same time, if this person could get their book published, I have more hope for myself.

Has anyone had this moment before? Is it just bad editing and a single instance or am I just more aware now that I have been exposed to "the rules"?


well, if it has all that but the story is good, it seems it is a good story that could have been better. Life isn't black or white, and very few stories are universally good or bad.

Writing hasn't ruined my reading, but it has taught me to do so much more critically.

Myrealana
03-15-2013, 06:30 PM
I understand what you mean. Sometimes when I go back and read a book I remember really enjoying, all I can see are the writing flaws: the excessive use of adverbs, info dumps disguised as dialogue ("As you know, your father, the king..." -- ARGH)

My husband is a filmmaker and movie critic and he says the same thing about movies. He got into film because he liked movies - all movies. If it was on a big screen, he liked it. Now, a single boom mic in a shot can completely ruin a film. The man who used to love anything on celluloid now gives more moves yellow or red lights on his reviews than he does green.

The thing is, it has heightened our appreciation of things that are truly done well. When we do find that gem that hits all the right notes in story, craft and character, we can appreciate it on so many more levels than we did before.

Beachgirl
03-15-2013, 06:44 PM
well, if it has all that but the story is good, it seems it is a good story that could have been better. Life isn't black or white, and very few stories are universally good or bad.

Writing hasn't ruined my reading, but it has taught me to do so much more critically.

^This. I just finished reading a book that had a good story and I enjoyed it very much. But I had to switch off the writer in me and ignore the occasional head-hopping, info-dumping, and unattributed dialogue. The story could have been so much better, but it was enjoyable enough that I kept reading, in spite of being yanked out of it a few times.

AshleyEpidemic
03-15-2013, 07:22 PM
Recently I have felt the same. Issues with characters, illogical leaps, and strange sentence construction had been leaping out of at me. I still keep reading and I power through it. I still enjoy the books, but I make note of things I can make sure to watch for myself.

johnhallow
03-15-2013, 09:08 PM
Don't worry, after you read enough it goes away. You'll still evaluate texts, but rather than constantly skimming along the surface you'll be able to immerse yourself again. At least, that's how it worked for me.

I do stop to think about why certain things put me off or wow me, but that comes after I've experienced them as a reader.

It took me about two or three years to get out of perma-editor mode, haha. Good luck!

Papaya
03-15-2013, 09:12 PM
I've always been a somewhat picky reader, and I've been rewriting really bad sentences in my head since the 8th grade. Once the sentence is up to par, I can continue on with the story. Writing a novel made me even choosier, and helped me to better understand why poor writing bothers me, but that's about it. If the writing is good, I'll forgive the imperfections. After all, no book is perfect and all writers have weaknesses.

Poor punctuation and misspelled words is another matter. I expect those to be as close to perfect as possible. A few oversights is forgivable, but I won't keep reading if there are a lot of punctuation and spelling errors.

Cathy C
03-15-2013, 10:15 PM
Yep. My hubby too. Le sigh... :(

Siri Kirpal
03-15-2013, 11:14 PM
Another thing to beware is that you're not becoming overly fond of 'the rules'. If you never tell, your writing is going to be a wordy bloated mess of trivial detail and needless scenes. If you never describe anything the reader doesn't absolutely need, your world may end up coming across as rather flat. If you never explain anything to the reader, it might be confusing. The rules are only intended as guidelines about things people often overdo. It doesn't mean the things they describe should never be done. If the story works (and if it's great and you'd otherwise enjoy it if you weren't worrying about rules, that suggests it works) then it doesn't matter if it hits a checklist of rules.

Things like spelling and punctuation are different issues. Books should get those right, but even big publishers let some mistakes through.

Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

This.

Also, I had the same problem when I trained for opera. Couldn't enjoy the listening.

With books, I ignore the rules as long as someone doesn't tell me something I know isn't true on the first few pages. (Not talking about humor or insanity or new realm fantasy. But stuff like putting tomatoes in pre-Columbian Italy.)

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Susan Littlefield
03-15-2013, 11:52 PM
I read for enjoyment. If I notice something off, I just read on.

The bottom line is that all writers, as well as every person involved in the publication process, are human. Everybody makes mistakes.:)

Ken
03-16-2013, 02:20 AM
... to some extent. It's made me more selective. Before, I might have been okay with a novel that was ok. Now, I really need a bit more than that. The novel has got to be good. Not necessarily great, but at least good.

Amadan
03-16-2013, 02:33 AM
Read better books.

Almondjoy
03-16-2013, 04:43 AM
For me, although I've found I've started to be slightly more critical while reading, I've also found that I can appreciate well-written works so much more, because I know how difficult it is to write such a good book. When an author does something right, I know what they do right, and can appreciate now. So after finishing a really well-written book, I enjoy it much more than I would have previously.

So, everything has its pros and cons, as it seems.

Mr Flibble
03-16-2013, 04:52 AM
It's a stage you go through. You will come out the oehr side

And then you'll appreciate when an agent says 'I like it, but I didn't love it' because you'll feel the same - you'll love books. just not in the same ratio. Some will be 'Well it's a good book. I just didn;t love it'

lolchemist
03-16-2013, 05:29 AM
Others have said it already but I'll repeat it, I think you might be clutching 'the rules' too tightly. Remember ALL of those books are published; the same thing you want for your own book. If those authors can bend and break that many rules and still have people pay money to enjoy their works, so can you!

rwm4768
03-16-2013, 08:26 AM
I've experiences this, too, though I still find a way to enjoy books despite their flaws. In fact, it can be motivating. When I see some of the problems in published books, I realize that you don't have to be perfect to write a story people enjoy.

Then there's the other problem I have. I read a lot in my genre, and it's gotten to the point that I can't come up with any ideas that don't feel like something I've read. Before I started reading like crazy, I just came up with ideas and didn't think about how original they were.

dangerousbill
03-16-2013, 08:37 AM
However, I almost can't get through this book I'm reading. The story is great and everything but there is telling, incorrect punctuation, jumpy action, info-dumping, an ever expanding cast of nonessential characters and extraneous description of passing characters.


Yup. That's the penalty you pay for developing your skills.

Consider a person who has nice furniture in his house, and then he goes to cabinetmaking school and learns to be a very good furniture maker. Now he realizes that the furniture that he liked so much is just junk, with uneven finish, a crooked leg, and held together with screws instead of pegs.

rugcat
03-16-2013, 09:41 AM
I used to know if I didn't enjoy a book, but wasn't able to understand why.That's it exactly. I always enjoyed well written books with a good story. I still do. I didn't care for poorly written books with dumb plots. Still don't.

As a writer, I'm more aware of what goes into a book and what makes me like it or not, but my enjoyment of books hasn't changed a whit.

I do admit to some jealousy when I read something so terrific that I realize it's beyond my own capabilities as a writer. Same thing happens when I hear a great musician. But that's just a character flaw on my part.

snc84
03-16-2013, 10:03 AM
I didn't expect this much action on this thread. It's nice to know some of you have gone through this. I hope it will pass.

It started with a misspelled y'all(spelled as ya'll). But I figured it was just a mistake. Then it happened again. It was like nails on a chalkboard. I'm from Texas, it's spelled y'all. I don't know how an editor didn't catch that.

Then the instance when she told and in the next sentence proceeded to show the exact same thing, which just made it redundant. I don't think I would have noticed if it wasn't a tell then show in the same short paragraph. I ended up skimming over some descriptions and infodumps when I realized they weren't important, which kinda made me feel a little... cheated.

Over all I did enjoy the story. And it is a "best seller" with a series of like 6 books. I guess it was just the first I've read since I started writing. All those little mistakes were just like a mosquito buzzing in my ear, just a little catch-me-off-guard distraction. I hope when I am editing my own book I can catch those same things.



And then you'll appreciate when an agent says 'I like it, but I didn't love it' because you'll feel the same - you'll love books. just not in the same ratio. Some will be 'Well it's a good book. I just didn;t love it'

I see what you are saying. It was a good little story but I just didn't love it.

gothicangel
03-17-2013, 01:12 AM
I was the same, both during my A levels and then later when I took Literature. I found that I HATED books for a while. :(

This happened to me when I finished university [Lit degree.] Thank the gods for Rosemary Sutcliff. :)

flapperphilosopher
03-17-2013, 08:40 PM
I've been a very picky reader for a long time, so I don't think getting super serious about writing has changed much for me. I can't really enjoy a book with a lot of flaws. No book is perfect, but for me to read the whole thing it better be about as close as a book can get in my eyes. I sound like such a snob, don't I? I guess I am. Luckily there are plenty of amazing authors out there with amazing books--even with my snobbishness I can find plenty to read. That's why I don't bother with books I don't find amazing, unless someone (cough, my sister) has insisted I really need to read them. I'd be a good agent that way. :P

Samsonet
03-19-2013, 09:22 AM
Before I learned that there was a such thing as "bad writing"... I read and liked Twilight. And Eragon. (In my defense, I was nine.)

In the past year, I've read tons of essays on bad writing, bad plotting, bad characterization, etc. I can recognize when a book I'm reading isn't that good. None of those ruin a book for me, probably because I'm used to them. That's not to say that writing hasn't ruined my reading habits. It just mostly affects the words themselves. Every time I come across a run-on sentence or a fragment, I have to mentally correct it to make it sound better. It's annoying and it slows me down.

LJD
03-19-2013, 06:23 PM
There are some things that bug me that probably wouldn't have before, but I think it's mostly that I now know exactly what is bothering me about the writing rather than just saying "I dont like it."

I am currently reading a book in which the author:
1) feels the need to describe every little facial expression, and the writing feels bloated. I really don't care what his brows are doing at every damn moment.
2) uses way too many adverbs. "haughtily" and "abruptly" are really getting on my nerves.
3) is obsessed with the color of the hero's eyes (green). In fact "green eyes" shows up 17 times and "green gaze" 10 times.
4) has a semicolon addiction. (1266 in a single novel!!)
5) occasionally head hops
etc.

I doubt before I would have noticed exactly what I didn't like about the writing back in the day, but it is easy for me to make a long list now. I do suspect that I still wouldn't have liked it.

JSSchley
03-19-2013, 06:44 PM
Also, read faster.

I challenged myself on Goodreads for their 2013 reading challenge to read 36 books—3 a month, which between writing, grad school, and working part-time, is a lot for me. It means I'm knocking out a novel about every 9 days.

I recommended a book to a friend recently and she said, "I can tell she's [the author] a journalist; the style is sort of weird." I totally hadn't noticed--I read the book so fast that the writing itself just disappeared behind the story. (DATA: A love story, which I've been recommending to people left, right and center, btw.)

monkey see monkey do
03-19-2013, 06:47 PM
Read better books.

Haha, yup.

DreamWeaver
03-19-2013, 11:03 PM
Before I started studying writing, I rarely noticed infodumps. Now it's like they have flags attached to them. They still don't really bother me, though. In fact, I enjoy a gracefully worked in infodump. Guess that's a personal reader taste ;).

Shadow_Ferret
03-19-2013, 11:09 PM
I have never EVER lost my enjoyment of reading.

ArachnePhobia
03-20-2013, 01:07 AM
It's official. I am the only person who enjoys reading crap. I actually try to fix my TBR list so 90% looks good and 10% looks... entertaining. I'm the proud owner of a physical copy of The Eye of Argon. I read Atlanta Nights all the way through.

It has to be entertaining, though. It can't just be bland and mediocre. I can enjoy a story that frequently confuses "innoculation" and "innovation," if not the way enjoyment was intended, but something that's boring is totally irredeemable.

The moral of this story is... be really careful browsing my book collection. :evil Same goes for my video collection, too (yes, there is a copy of Robot Monster in there, though to my shame I have not yet acquired Plan 9 From Outer Space. Stupid me. Stupid, stupid).

Cornelius Gault
04-02-2013, 04:52 AM
My problem is spelling. I underline the spelling errors in books that I read (not from the lib'ry) to show my great skills at spell-checking.

It is amazing that I cannot pick up a book without finding typos. I guess these people wrote without the benefit of MS Word and spell-checkers.

JBClemmens
04-02-2013, 06:42 AM
For me, Cornelius, it's hard to resist correcting or noticing spelling mistakes on discussion posts and social media sites. I guess most are typos that happen when typing too fast and not proofreading. I sympathize with you.

blacbird
04-02-2013, 07:40 AM
Reading has ruined my writing. No way can my meager narrative skills compete with any of the stuff I see on any bookshelf in any bookstore. Agents and editors are in total agreement.

caw

theDolphin
04-06-2013, 07:28 PM
Has anyone had this moment before? Is it just bad editing and a single instance or am I just more aware now that I have been exposed to "the rules"?

Yes. Yes. Yes. And yes.

Another issue I've had with reading is that sometimes after a day spent writing I don't want to read another word! I find myself missing books, but unable to really focus to read for long. I've compensated for this by subscribing to some great literary magazines and reading their short fiction and poetry.

guttersquid
04-07-2013, 08:28 PM
A filmmaker who makes movies to please film critics will have a very short career.

Mare
04-12-2013, 07:19 PM
I read for enjoyment. But I have so much to learn about writing, it's fun for me to catch the same mistakes by published authors, that my writing instructor thumps me for making.
As a student, I'm told to read as a 'writer'. I think it does help to study what other writers are doing.

As a photographer for many years, I learned a lot of what 'not' to do by studying other photographers. I just enjoying learning too.:D

guttersquid
04-12-2013, 07:54 PM
it's fun for me to catch the same mistakes by published authors, that my writing instructor thumps me for making.


Writing instructor: "Don't do that. It's a mistake."

Published authors: "We do that, and we are published authors."

guttersquid: "Is your writing instructor a published author?"

Mare
04-13-2013, 05:12 AM
Yes guttersquid, my instructor is a published author. It may not be the best way to go, but I like a structured course of study. And I started from scratch, so much to learn...:D

Laer Carroll
04-13-2013, 10:43 PM
Writing hasn't ruined my enjoyment. Maybe it's made me a little more critical. Maybe not. My favorite writers and fave books are still enjoyable.


I enjoy a gracefully worked in infodump.

Labeling all infodumps as bad is a novice mistake. Itís a clichť. The problem with most of them is that they are poorly done. Not that they are EEVILLE.

Writing a very long infodump which is fascinating is harder to do than shorter ones. But some of my favorite writers do pull it off.

I canít, at least not yet. Instead Iíve learned to break up the dumps and intersperse them with action and dialog and more general description. I also learned to figure out what is the essential info I want to convey, and what I can leave to the readerís imagination.