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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

#IWSG: Reading and Writing


It's the 1st Wednesday. Happy  Insecure Writers Support Group Day. IWSG is the brainchild Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Thanks, Alex, for starting this group and keeping it going. And thanks to this month's awesome hosts: Misha Gericke, LK Hill,Juneta Key, Christy and Joylene Buter! 

This month's question: How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?


As a child, I was always being told to get my nose out of a book. I haven’t changed much. I still read a lot. For the past two years, I’ve joined the Goodreads Challenge. The first year, I my goal was to read 100 books. Unfortunately, I wasn’t as faithful logging in the books after I read them, or I just hadn’t read that many. Last year, I wasn’t as ambitious, so my goal was 75. I managed to finish 96. I only read at night or while waiting for appointments, on a plane, or in airports. Daytime is for writing.

With all those books, I’ve found excellent examples of what to do and what to avoid in my own writing. What to avoid: backstory dumps (my critique partner always nicks me on those); unnecessary details (the reader doesn’t need to know everything the writer does); and my “favorite”, ending the chapter with the main character going to sleep. What a subliminal suggestion—put down the book and go to sleep.

I discovered Tom Clancy after his book Patriot Games came out. That had to be his shortest. Intrigued, I started reading all his books. I learned to keep the story fast paced, leave the chapter on a cliff-hanger with one character and begin the next with a different character. Alternating scenes, leaving each character at a high point, made me keep reading. I had to find out what happened next. As his books got longer, I learned a lot about including unnecessary detail. Obviously, I’m not among his intended readers who like that.

Considering the steps I go through in perfecting my book before publishing, I’m amazed at the books that either haven’t been edited or the writer ignored the editor (or the editor wasn’t very good). The occasional typos or grammar error can creep in. But when I catch many, the book goes in my DNF pile. Why waste time on a book that the writer didn’t care enough to perfect?

Being a writer, perhaps I’m more critical than I used to be.

Apologies for being late. I've been playing with Toddler Girl and wasn't paying attention to the date.


Click here to find others on the Insecure Writers Support Group Blog Hop. Or go to IWSG on Facebook to see who’s blogging today. 

23 comments:

  1. LOL I never thought about a chapter ending with the character going to sleep as a subtle message, but you're right.

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  2. Hey we only have so much time to read these days. No sense in finishing a book that's poorly written. There's plenty of other good books to read.

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  3. I'm way more critical now than I used to be as a reader. :)

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  4. Erika, Diane, & Elizabeth: thanks.

    Ken: I agree. I always feel a little guilty not finishing but life is too short.

    Damyanti, me too.

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  5. Who could pass up time with a little one:)
    I was always being told to get my nose out of a book. I miss those days!

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  6. I think it's inevitable that we get more critical of our reading as we learn more about our writing. We're always having to police ourselves, and it's hard to shut that off.

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    1. The more we write the more we learn. You're right, Shannon, it is hard to turn off.

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  7. I read at night too, always have, probably always will. Lucky for my sister and I my parents never told us to get our noses our of a book!

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    1. My mother would tell me that when I read instead of doing chores. LOL The worse were my teachers who thought I should be doing schoolwork even though I'd finished. Good thing I never listened to them.

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  8. Reading to see way not to write- I do that as well. Studying failures (subjective, I know) is a valuable way to improve. Information dumps are a weakness as well. I like to pretend I do it differently than others, but I know better.

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    1. The more info dumps I see, the better I get about eliminating them.

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  9. The subliminal message ending idea has got to be the most fantastic ploy I've ever heard! I too, was always the kid with "her nose in a book somewhere". I loved to be asked "where ya been?" so I could share the adventures I took in books ;-) As far as being critical; I much prefer a pleasant trip when going on an adventure, though an occasional bump is nearly inevitable.

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    1. A writer in a critique group I was in ended every chapter with the heroine going to bed. We'd tell her not to do that, but she didn't listen. I never thought of that being a subliminal msssage until I read her work.

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  10. Great post. I also learn a lot from reading, especially from badly written books I DNF, just like you. Learning from good books is harder. They absorb you, suck you in to the point you stop noticing the techniques and only care what happens next. Such books require a conscious analysis afterwards.

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    1. I know exactly what you mean, Olga, about getting sucked into a story and forgetting to analyze. That is a good book.

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  11. Interesting post, Diane. I'm a slow reader so try to eliminate the DNF books before buying them, although that has failed a few times. That means that I read quite a few 'samples' and get to apply my editor/writing brain to openings.

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    1. Good idea, Roland. Before buying (even for free), I should read a sample. Maybe I'd eliminate some.

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  12. Oh, the joy of a good read! Thankfully I've found lots of places to consistently find them with authors I love! (And yes, you're among them!)

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    1. You are so sweet to tell me that. Like you, I know I'll find a great reader with certain authors. You know I was a vampire virgin before reading your books. Can we say hooked?

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  13. Aha--character goes to sleep at end of the chapter??? Had to laugh at that one. You make so many good points in this blog post. I've never read Tom Clancy. Maybe I'll try to first one at least. I learned a lot about adding humor to mysteries by reading Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series.
    JQ Rose

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    1. Omigosh, Stephanie gets into so many spots. I don't know how Janet does it. I want to write slapstick like her! LOL

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