Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Reading With Your Editor Hat On


Hi lovely cyberbuddies! Short post today--I'm doing Revisions Round 3: line edits.

WRITING VS. READING
While it's all fine and good to read over your own manuscript with a critical eagle-eye, what do you do when it comes down to reading published books?

When I find time to do "pleasure reading," I admit I have trouble taking off my writer or editor's hat. Unless sections of a book really captivate me so that I forget I'm reading, I read books through the lens of plot, character, pacing, strength of descriptions, etc.

I analyze. Constantly.

I read like a WRITER reading a book, rather than like a READER reading a book.

My hubby asks me if I can relax and just enjoy a book without analyzing it. I'm not so sure I can anymore. Reading is pleasurable, yes, but it's also my research. I read YA books in various genres to find out what has been published, what's out there. I want to see how these books work--what makes them zip or sag, how the plot is structured, and how the characters run around on the pages.

YOUR TURN
What about you--are you able to set aside your editor's hat when you read?
Do you consider reading as pleasure or as research? Something in between?
When you find minor things that bug you in a book, are you less enthusiastic about it?

33 comments:

  1. When researching for comparables, I read like a writer and at times, I find myself enthralled and forget.

    I can turn it off and read as a reader. Funny when I do that, I like books better. :) I had my mom reading some stuff for me. She says she now looks for all of that in all the books she reads and I have "sucked the fun" out of reading for her. She's mostly kidding. Mostly. I hope.

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  2. I too, tend to read books with a critical eye. I think it comes from being part of a writer's critique group.

    Reading is something I do, either to review books based on author requests, or to find out what kind of books are being published in the genres I typically write.

    Very rarely do I read for the pure pleasure of it. That's not to say that I don't enjoy reading. It's just different - not the way it was when I was a kid.

    -Sherry Ellis

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  3. It's really hard for me to turn off the writer and editor, which has spoiled a lot of books - sad - because that love of books is where we started as writers.

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  4. That's a cute kitten pic. Ever since I started writing and going to conferences, I can't help but pick apart what I read - but it's still fun. More fun, in fact. :)

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  5. The photo of that bug-eyed kitten is adorable!!! But anyway. . .

    I think my editor's hat is permanently attached to my head. I analyze everything I read, but I enjoy doing it. There's the craziness. ; ) I love to read and I love to analyze as I read. Even when I stumble upon problems within a story, I sort of enjoy figuring out what went wrong and why, so it's all good.

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  6. Hi Carol! I do consider reading YA to be research. I like to think about the books I just LOVE and what made them really work for me. But, it's sort of just a general pondering. I do seem to pick apart popular books that (to me) just aren't written that well - wondering HOW millions of people bought them and loved them. (There's every possibility that's a total jealousy thing, though...) :) Hope you're having a great week! Have fun with those line edits! :D

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  7. I mostly read for pleasure, though one book I recently read intending it to be research (about the premise and plot) as well as pleasurable was definitely more of the former than the latter. I learned something even if I did keep getting annoyed with the book.

    I do bring my editor to reading, but only on the basic level where a typo or repeated phrase takes me out of the story and I can't help but notice it. Otherwise the main research comes when the writing is so good that I have to take notes. Occasionally I'll note how the author increases the conflict/stakes, but again, that's only when it's been done so well it jumps out at me.

    Strange how a typo that takes me out of the story can ruin my reading experience when a wonderful line that makes me aware I'm reading a book only makes me enjoy it more.

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  8. I read for pleasure. I keep my editor/writer's hat on, noticing what charms me and what bumps me, and analyzing why. But that doesn't diminish my pleasure in the least. I read like a writer, and then I try to write like a reader.

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  9. A couple of years ago it happened, I could not longer read as a reader. Grrr. I try hard to not analyze but have to for some books.

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  10. It depends on what I'm reading, but most of the time I do read as a writer. Just can't help it!

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  11. I love to read. There is nothing like coming home with an arm full of books! I can turn my editor off if I get swept up in the story, which has been happening a lot lately - I'm on a roll of good books. LOVE that kitten picture!!

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  12. There are some books that I read for analysis-- but there are others that totally sweep me off my feet and carry me away as a complete reader. Harry Potter, Hunger Games, The Golden Compass. It's these books I really live and write for. I want my own writing to be so addictive and intoxicating that even the critics are sucked it!

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  13. Oh yeah. It's real tough to take off that editor's hat. I even do it with movies... always analyzing the characters and stories and trying to get inside the writer's heads. It's exhausting. But it's also stimulating. Usually when I read for mere pleasure, it's a book I never expected to pick up and it just grabs me and sucks me in. Then I forget about analyzing and just enjoy.

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  14. Like most writers, I'm a bookworm - I have been since I was able to read. However, when I started seriously writing I fell into the trap you discuss here. One thing I have found; if it's easy for me to just read, rather than edit, many times the book has a great story - and is well written too!

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  15. I also read like a writer. When I first started writing I was super critical of published books. Always finding their weakness' and sharing about what I found in the reviews I wrote online.

    Then I finished writing and editing a book and found that not only is my writing flawed, but writing styles are different which is good and which also means that we won't all like each book.

    So while I noticed the flaws easier now, I also have much more grace because I realize books are art formed with words and uniquely different.

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  16. sadly, I have to agree. Reading is not quite as pleasurable as it once was - except on those rare occasions when I pick up a book that completely transports me elsewhere.

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  17. I can't turn off the editor anymore. I used to be--but now the editor brain has fused with the writing brain. It's irreversible, I think! So now my first drafts take FOREVER!

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  18. I've definitely gotten more critical the more I learn about the technical side of writing. I can still get lost in the pure pleasure of reading if its good enough, though!

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  19. I'm able to turn my analyze mode down, but not get rid of it completely. It's always there, wondering why the author chose this word or that piece of symbolism. But this doesn't take away from reading being enjoyable, especially if it's a good book.

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  20. It really depends on the book and what I'm working on at the time. If I'm plotting, then I pay attention that. If I working at increasing suspense, then I zoom into that aspect of the novel I'm reading.

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  21. I definitely still have an editor's hat on when I read (even though reading is still pleasurable) because for me (like for you) it is also a form of research.

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  22. But part of the fun is analysing a book to death... Although there are some days I wish I could switch off the inner editor.

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  23. Yes, I've managed to find a way to take my editor hat off when I read. Perhaps it's after years of trying, trying, trying, I finally powered through. BUT! If a book is so weak or poorly edited, it's impossible for me to finish it. And it's nearly, OK, it IS impossible for me to do it w/my own writing... :D Great post, Carol!

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  24. I used to review novels for a magazine. I stopped because I couldn't enjoy reading just to read, after a time. I was always reviewing...and editing in my mind. It took a long time to take off the hat.

    Now I read for enjoyment.

    Great post.

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  25. The more I write the harder it is to take off the critical cap off when reading. I find it somewhere in between research unless I get absorbed by the book like you had said.

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  26. I'm a better reader now than I was a few years ago. I now try to enjoy or get the meaning of whatever I'm reading.

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  27. Wonderful questions! I love a blog that facilitates conversation. I'm a total reader-analyzer. A crazy, frustrating habit most of the time. However, when I really, really need to pull away from the craft and just relax, I pick something very-out of my genre. Like an adult book...
    I'll be keeping an eye on your blog. It's fun!

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  28. First of all, that kitten is way cute. And I've caught myself more than a few times editing what I'm really. Like they used that extra "that" and how come no one gave them guff for using all the adjectives, and ooh that prologue. I've gotten better lately though. :)

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  29. I can't help analyzing the books I read, but I can still relax and enjoy the ride. Does that make sense?

    I hope you're having a nice weekend!

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  30. Confession ... I read that way too - but doesn't mean I don't enjoy reading just as much as always

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  31. Ha! Ok, I totally edit when I'm reading. Like, if there are adverbs and strange dialogue tags...but also I study what worked well, and this helps me so much. Good luck on your revision!

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  32. Reading is definitely for pleasure. Though I know for certain stories, there'll be research involved. Good luck with the edits! ;-)

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  33. I wear both hats. I enjoy what I read, but at the same time I'm picking things apart. I noticed myself doing this after joining a critique group.

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