Slowly Learning to Read

Day 449

I’ve been better able to notice the writing of others. This is an accomplishment for me others may find astounding for two reasons: it isn’t all that hard and I’ve had more than the regular share of literature training.

Let me scratch that second one off the list first with a the broad broom stroke of time. I could have had a minor in English lit if I’d only filled out the paperwork, but that reading was done in college nearly half my life ago. I forget things easily. Nor did those classes focus on the writing as a demonstration of how to become an author only how to critique what others had written.

Paying attention to the writing isn’t hard but it isn’t easy either. I don’t buy books so that I might learn to write better. I buy them so that I might spend time in a different world enjoying the imaginations of others. An author who makes the reading effortless lulls me into absorbing that experience rather than analysing it. (Maybe there is a simple lesson to learn right there.)

I recently completed a book that walked too close to the edge of bad. Usually keeping it’s balance fine, but sometimes wobbling on cliche and patterned dialog for noticable stretches. Given all the writing advice regarding eradicating cliche I was surprised this book made into publication. As for the dialog, the two male leads talked so much like women I thought the twist was going to be them turning out gay.

The very last bit of book I read—only the prologue from a book I’m re-reading—teaches me that if you have a plan for your story and goals for your characters you can get them to say and do things on target for that arc. That prologue is a throw-away bit of writing that does little more than fully introduce the world, establish back story for the birth of the main character we don’t see again until she graduates high school, and outline the rules of magic. Little more than that. Such understood direction derived from characters who know what they want gives heft to the reading in a way that just flouncing imagination cannot. Character sheets for writing always have a space to fill for goals or needs. I’ve never felt any way but hokey about these sections though I’ve felt the same way about the sections for eye color and weight. I think I can see now why I should stop feeeling that way.