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chracatoa
08-01-2016, 04:27 AM
Well, I did not see that coming. Now every time I read (I mostly listen now since I moved almost completely to audio books - and there's two adverbs already) I keep paying attention at the structure, adverbs, passive voice, etc., finding problems with it.

I was hooked in a series that is littered with adverbs. Now I can't listen to it anymore.

I miss reading and not realizing if it was bad or not. This even affects movies. I was watching Star Trek Beyond cringing at the basic problems of the plot while my family was just having fun.

How do I fix that???? :)

Inspie
08-01-2016, 05:20 AM
I don't have any advice for you, but I wanted to chime in and say that I do this too. I think it's normal. Once you're used to analyzing plots, sentence structure, character development, etc, it's glaringly obvious everywhere. I have a hard time watching movies or reading books unless they're really, really well done.

tjwriter
08-01-2016, 05:25 AM
I have learned to turn that off for all but the worst of the worst, but I can't even explain how I managed to do it. Sometimes I just go into things with the mindset of them being "candy" - in that they have no nutritional value and there just for my enjoyment. It's the only way I can enjoy some things.

Pretty much all the folks here end up in this boat on a certain level, I believe.

Chris P
08-01-2016, 05:34 AM
I'd say keep reading and writing. I think it's all part of the learning and growth process. Ever learned a new language? Remeber how when you first started getting into it you saw the cognates EVERYWHERE and it seemed the whole world was built around your new language? Then when you learn it more ... not so much. It is how it is. You'll grow through this.

As well, it's helped me to get rid of the idea of "good" or "bad" writing and focus on "works here" or "doesn't work here." Any given technique that works in one book might be out of place in another, and anything that doesn't work in one story might work fine in another. Asking myself why it works here or why I think it doesn't has increased my reading enjoyment as well as my writing.

TylerXavier
08-01-2016, 06:56 AM
As well, it's helped me to get rid of the idea of "good" or "bad" writing and focus on "works here" or "doesn't work here." Any given technique that works in one book might be out of place in another, and anything that doesn't work in one story might work fine in another. Asking myself why it works here or why I think it doesn't has increased my reading enjoyment as well as my writing.

I agree a lot with this paragraph here. The analysis/criticism becomes another thing to enjoy. I would add that accepting some flaws in published material is also important. When I started writing and editing my own fiction, I would get into this rut while reading things in which I would become appalled that a professional author could make so many "mistakes." I had this delusion that if I wasn't making it as a writer, then the people who are making it must be perfect (arrogance approaching critical mass, right?).

Published, professional works of art, no matter how many sales or awards, are not perfect, and that's okay. Same with the artists themselves. Once I understood that, I mean REALLY understood that, I struck an effective balance between enjoyment and analysis in stories.

TellMeAStory
08-01-2016, 06:59 PM
That dad-blamed internal editor. Why won't she ever shut up!

chracatoa
08-01-2016, 07:12 PM
I'll try to turn it off. I have a long flight ahead and I hope I can put that aside. The problem is that when I hear something that stands out my mind wanders, and when I'm back to the book I have to rewind (do we say that for digital players?). This also happens when the plot reminds me of something in my own book and my mind goes there for a minute until I snap out of it.

Dennis E. Taylor
08-01-2016, 07:19 PM
I was worried about this for a while, but I've since read and enjoyed a couple of books. I think the problem is that writing raises your standards and expectations, so that a lot of books no longer make the cut.

Or, as an alternative hypothesis, I started writing at about the same time that I started using Amazon as my primary book source (there's actually a causal relationship), so more heavy exposure to self-pubbed books is giving me a false sense of "average quality".

EMaree
08-01-2016, 07:34 PM
For me, this faded over time -- I stopped mentally criticising overly long descriptions, adverbs etc and just accepted that this was part of the author's voice. I make an effort to step back and think about what makes the voice unique to the author rather than what is 'wrong' with it, and if something slightly annoys me I try to focus on why readers enjoy it, and so on. Focusing on what works rather than what doesn't fit my mental rulebook.

ironmikezero
08-01-2016, 07:55 PM
I used to think of this phenomenon as the writer/editor's curse . . . but then I realized, with tongue firmly in cheek, it could be perceived as a blessing as well.

Whereas no mistake or awkward turn of phrase shall go unnoticed, thereunto by the grace of such examples shall I forebear to go in mine own stead.

With time, I've mellowed. Now I just go along for the ride; only the most glaring of snafus tend to pull me out of the moment. Unfortunately these days, there seems to be enough of these literary speed-bumps to make for a bumpy journey. :Shrug:

Myrealana
08-01-2016, 08:44 PM
There's no way out but through.

My husband used to call himself a "movie slut" -- he would watch anything and like it.

Then, he went to film school and became a movie reviewer. Suddenly, movies he had praised lost their luster. A boom mic in a single shot could ruin an entire movie experience. Weaknesses in story and character started to actually bug him. He was actually willing to say "This is a bad movie."

But something else happened. He was able to find a much greater appreciation of truly good examples of the art. Movies he would have sat through thinking they were fine moved him to tears. Great examples of technique and style became something to admire and watch for. Movies like "Birdman" with its extended "single shot" effect, or "Memento" with its fantastic editing, the sheer magic of Hayao Miazaki -- these he learned to love in an entirely new way.

I find the same thing in my reading and writing. I don't have much patience for bad writing, but when I find GOOD writing, I know why I love it, and I can appreciate it all the better for knowing.

JSPembroke
08-02-2016, 04:14 AM
I had a similar experience as Angry Guy, in that writing raises your standards. Over time, I learned to compartmentalize.

One thing that helped me was sort through the books I read and enjoyed before the dreaded internal editor took charge, and re-read one. Nostalgia probably played a part but even so, knowing before hand that I would enjoy it, I was able to focus on the things I did enjoy and largely ignore the fatal flaws. Once the baseline was established, it got easier - kinda like once you know how to look at those magic eye pictures, it becomes easier to see the shapes hidden in all of them.

ishtar'sgate
08-04-2016, 05:36 AM
I enjoy reading just as much as I ever did. I don't expect any writer to be perfect. I'm certainly not. I do, however, read with more appreciation for a particularly well written sentence, a vividly painted description, etc. Before I wrote a novel myself I had no clue how hard it was to construct a story that could keep readers engaged. Now that I know, I admire those writers who seem to do it effortlessly and it challenges me to do better.

Laer Carroll
08-04-2016, 08:33 PM
I've never had this experience. In fact, for books which most impress me my critical faculty completely disappears because the people, places, or actions are so fascinating. For years I tried to resist this seduction, but even when I grimly try to be objective I can never do it. It works when the book is bad, but I never read much of those books.

What does happen is that my subconscious soaks up the topics and techniques of my favorite books and authors. Every once in a while I'll spark on something in my latest book which resonates with something I may have encountered a decade ago. Then I have to pause and decide if I've been too imitative, or if I've used the something as inspiration or as an expansion of my writer's tool box and treasure chest.

Jamesaritchie
08-05-2016, 08:12 AM
It happens to most, but it usually passes. Try going back to the printed word. Listening is not reading, and sometimes this makes a difference.

Once!
08-05-2016, 11:40 AM
I suspect we all do it, to some degree or another. Once you know the mechanics of writing it can be hard to turn off the internal editor.

I try to flip it on its head and look for the positives as well as looking for "mistakes" or guideline violations. That blockbuster novel full of said-bookisms and cliche? Well, sure, you can beat yourself up seeing all the clunky language and grumble that you could do better.

Or you could ask the killer question - Why is it successful? If the writing is really so bad, how come millions of people are buying it? (And not buying my books, grrr). And then you spot (hopefully) that something which looks terrible can have hidden features, such as strong plot, premise, character, tension.

Even the worst popular entertainment is still popular. And I'm sure we'd all like a bit of that.

I don't think we can ever turn off the internal editor. It's our version of the albatross around our collective necks. But if we tune it to look for positives as well as negatives we can make the experience a little more bearable. And possibly profitable.

nossmf
08-06-2016, 11:08 AM
I liken the situation to fantasy football. Before I started playing fantasy football, I watched two of the 32 NFL teams just for the enjoyment of watching/bragging about them.

Once I got hooked on FF, enjoyment of the game frequently got interrupted by constant mental stat crunching. A 32-yard touchdown run got immediately computed into 9.2 points, somewhat diminishing the enjoyment of watching such a spectacular play.

At the same time, now EVERY team was suddenly worth watching. My viewership expanded from 2 to 32 teams.

Now switch gears to talking about reading. Perhaps you start with a single genre you enjoy. Now you start this whole writing thing, and boom! Every sentence is automatically analyzed in your head, somewhat diminishing enjoyment of the book itself.

But now you may find works of art worth reading in not just one genre, but two, or five, or all of them. Find authors you've never considered reading before but are highly acclaimed, give them a try even if it's not your preferred genre. You may be surprised to find you like the story anyway.

cmi0616
08-07-2016, 02:59 AM
Well, I did not see that coming. Now every time I read (I mostly listen now since I moved almost completely to audio books - and there's two adverbs already) I keep paying attention at the structure, adverbs, passive voice, etc., finding problems with it.

I was hooked in a series that is littered with adverbs. Now I can't listen to it anymore.

I miss reading and not realizing if it was bad or not. This even affects movies. I was watching Star Trek Beyond cringing at the basic problems of the plot while my family was just having fun.

How do I fix that???? :)

Hm, you know, I've never thought this could be something that bothered somebody. A lot of people have to work very hard to, as they say, "read like a writer." People actually pay for college degrees to be trained (at least in part) to do that.

I think there are certain kinds of fiction whose goal is not to be overly engaging or provocative or artful, but simply to entertain. To keep you turning the pages. An analog might be something like Blue Velvet vs something like A Good Day to Die Hard (or, really, the new Star Trek movies as well). The latter is a terrible movie by every definition EXCEPT that it does its sole job very well; to blow shit up for audiences to see. That's why you go to see Diehard. So there are certain books that maybe aren't technically very sound, but are still engaging because they're aiming towards some other end (i.e., emotional manipulation, a sort of vicarious redemption, humor, etc.). So I think you can enjoy those books, even though (or perhaps because) they're not trying to do the same kind of writing that you are.

Silva
08-07-2016, 03:19 AM
That's not why I watched Die Hard. :D

I noticed a sudden jerk where I began noticing really crappy writing after I started writing seriously, whereas before I didn't care because reading was just an escape and not a "this is gonna be me someday." But I don't get hung up over it. I allow myself to make the observation and then move on. I don't want to be that person that is so hung up that they can't move on, because it'd be irritating for me and all the people I'd feel compelled to vent to who would like to just enjoy whatever it is.

cmi0616
08-07-2016, 05:22 PM
That's not why I watched Die Hard. :D

Perhaps not the original, but surely you didn't go to see the last one for Willis' stunning performance? :P

Silva
08-07-2016, 08:00 PM
Perhaps not the original, but surely you didn't go to see the last one for Willis' stunning performance? :P

I've only seen the original and don't have much interest in seeing the sequels because sequels to movies that were intended to stand alone are almost always pathetic rehashes, but I saw the original because of the multiple references to it in Brooklyn Nine Nine.

cmi0616
08-07-2016, 08:15 PM
I've only seen the original and don't have much interest in seeing the sequels.

You're smarter than I am, then :) Almost all of the sequels have been quite bad, but the last one was especially so. It might be the worst commercial film I've ever seen. But I digress...

MumblingSage
08-07-2016, 09:25 PM
Well, I did not see that coming. Now every time I read (I mostly listen now since I moved almost completely to audio books - and there's two adverbs already) I keep paying attention at the structure, adverbs, passive voice, etc., finding problems with it.

I was hooked in a series that is littered with adverbs. Now I can't listen to it anymore.

I miss reading and not realizing if it was bad or not. This even affects movies. I was watching Star Trek Beyond cringing at the basic problems of the plot while my family was just having fun.

How do I fix that???? :)

Oh boy have I been there.

But I'm able to enjoy more things than I used to. I used to be very rules-bound, without considering the reasons why a writer wouldn't follow a rule. Eventually I learned that my hackles didn't need to go up every time I spotted an adverb or head-hopping. Sometimes those serve the larger story. And sometimes they distract some of us, but not so much that it ruins the reading experience.

It also helped to become more of a connoisseur of what I liked--if I stopped head-hopping it might make me cranky, but then a few lines later there would be a great metaphor or zingy piece of dialogue. Or a zeugma. Or, better yet, I'd be able to step back and focus on characterization or creative twists in the plotline.

I got over my fear of cliches by the TV Tropes mantra: "Tropes are tools." If the story is fun, it's fun, even if similar stories have been told before.

That said, I'm still a very picky reader (and viewer). But I get so many good books thrown my way all the same that it's just as well I'm picky, or my reading list would be even more unmanageable than it already is.