I grew up surrounded by stories. My grandmother told stories when I spent the night at her house. My mom read to me every night. My dad tells stories in every conversation. My first favorite books and movies expanded my horizons. I became an avid reader and started daydreaming alternative endings or further adventures for my favorite books. From there, writing became a way of getting those ideas and my own, new stories on the page so I could keep them close or share them.
As a writer and a reader, I find myself enjoying books more than once. I love to read. I love to write. Books hold countless treasures for me as a reader and as a writer. I love to study the way that a writer has structured their book in plot, pacing, character, and setting. It helps my writing to grow. Sometimes, I go back and take notes on a book, studying the structure and characterization. As Stephen King famously stated in his book On Writing, “If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
Now, I know that some writers find King’s quote to be a stressful “command” statement that requires us to read massive amounts of books each year. I don’t think that’s what King meant. Even as a voracious reader, I try to slow down in my reading to let the words breathe, to study the structure and characterization, and to uncover the nuances of the words. I get more out of books that I re-read multiple times because I’m less concerned with “what happens next” and I’m reading for the enjoyment of each part of the story.
How do you read? Do you think it’s necessary to the act of writing or just a natural part of it? Are there other ways to be surrounded by the world of “story” that work just as well like verbal storytelling, listening to music, or watching movies?
And here’s one last quote:
“We live and breathe words. .... It was books that made me feel that perhaps I was not completely alone.” Cassandra Clare
Thanks all for stopping by! I'm still accepting guest posts, so if you want to see how to sign up, please click here.
I read slow anyway, but I find I spend more time examining the flow and what works and what doesn't.ReplyDelete
Since I'm also a musician, I think music is the most powerful way to tell a story. It's the perfect combination of words and sound.
Reading slowly can work well for studying the craft of writing, and I had a feeling you would love music best. :)Delete
I read a lot, I think. Not so much lately, but normally, I read a lot. I take note of things I like and things I don't like, then try to incorporate (or avoid) those types of things in my own stories.ReplyDelete
That's a great way to read. I don't often take notes on things I don't like . . . well, except that one book that took exactly 99 pages to get to the story. I counted ... and then felt bad about that. Plot pacing and the way it's done is important to me so I often pay attention to that.Delete
I do think reading is important to writing. I've found that I read differently now that I've studied the craft of writing. Some days I wish I could go back and be able to read a book without studying it but I wouldn't trade all the things I've learned or the chance I have to write.ReplyDelete
Exactly. The more I write, the more I study the books I read. But now and then, I tell my inner writer/editor to take a hike, and I just read for the fun of it.Delete
Books were my escape when I was younger (and sometimes even now that I'm older); I had few friends when I was growing up and I lived in a small town, so books allowed me to live vicariously through the characters I read about.ReplyDelete
I know how that is. My favorite books often feel like old friends. In childhood, I spent a couple of years of recesses in the library.Delete
It's more difficult to read just for pleasure now. The more we learn about writing, the more we tend to analyze what we read.ReplyDelete
That's true. I still seem to manage it, but not while I'm in the midst of editing. That's a dangerous time to read.Delete
I think I enjoy books slightly differently now I'm a writer. I don't really study how a book was written, but I do make a mental note of anything I especially do or don't like.ReplyDelete
I think I have more mental notes than written ones, but it depends on amazingly an author has done their job. When it blows me away, I go back and look for why it worked.Delete
If I'm going to read, I try not to be an editor. Otherwise...I wouldn't finish any books.ReplyDelete
Good point, Cindy. It can be hard to enjoy a book if we have our inner editor jabbering at us, but I still often find myself stopped mid-page in wonder at something an author has done, or wondering how the author got me to think/feel the way that I did.Delete
I read every chance I get. I was the same way growing up. Reading made me want to write. Yet I know people who are inspired by a show or someone's history. I know some writers that rarely read. But all of us find inspiration from somewhere.ReplyDelete
I agree that reading and writing go hand in hand. My love for writing comes from reading, after all. I'm so glad I can read for pleasure and not be distracted by judging or dissecting a book as I read it, sometimes I do notice certain things and learn from them, but more often than not I just get lost in the world. Great post! :DReplyDelete
I like getting lost in the world of a story, but even then, afterwards I want to go back and find out how I got lost . . . what made it work, etc.Delete
Thanks so much for hosting me, Misha!!! Praying all is well with you.ReplyDelete
I always used to have my head in a book. Lapsed for a good many years and am getting back into the habit. Like others have mentioned, I have to keep my inner editor in check now if I want to enjoy reading!ReplyDelete
I tend to analyze what I read as well...something I never used to do. I know I've got a good book in my hands when the analyzing stops and I'm sucked into their world. If I analize all the way through, it didn't grip me.ReplyDelete
I notice I over analize movies too...also new. James Scott Bell advocates for a lot of movie watching in his self editing book, of good movies where the plot structure works, where characters are memorable, and you're left wanting more. He uses them as examples, and since then I've been over analyzing each character, every act, plots, sub plots, etc.
Hi Tyrean! I also believe you can't be a good author without reading widely and voraciously. If you are, you recognize the downfalls and weaknesses you must avoid and learn how to truly build amazing characters and plots. There's nothing like learning from example, eh?ReplyDelete
Absolutely! I love the way you talk about stories. That's it exactly. The power of stories is what first drove me to read and write, and it's why I still love it. Whether I'm penning my own epic fantasy or writing brochure copy for the day job, it's all about telling a story. And, yep, I'm a re-reader too!ReplyDelete