August 15, 2012

Reading with a writer's eye...not always fun.

There was a time when I would read book after book after book. On one of my "vacations" in the early 90's when I still lived at home, I spent three days in the back yard reading books. I remember two of the them still to this day, Stephen King's It and John Grisham's The Client.

I once had a crap ton of authors on my "Must Buy" list. These days, not so much, because sadly, some of my all time favorite writers have gotten sloppy, lazy, and predictable.

I've been learning the "rules" of writing for about 12 years now. They have made me a better writer. They have also made me a fickle reader.

Take for instance this whole 50 Shades nonsense. I've yet to talk to one author who got through the whole book, let alone all three. I read the first two paragraphs on the free Kindle read and that's it.

I get extremely annoyed when I see authors breaking the rules I've been told repeatedly not to break or...if you do break them, good luck getting published! I won't get into it because authors know what I'm talking about, everyone else probably doesn't care...but how do you turn off that writer brain when you are reading?

I have a very, very hard time doing that and I've noticed my enjoyment of reading has dwindled the last five years or so. Perhaps it's that disgruntled/jealous part of my brain that can't stand reading something that's so popular but poorly written knowing I've slaved over the same manuscript for years trying to make it perfect...which it can rarely ever be to begin with.

So, writers, how do you get beyond this issues and go back to reading for enjoyment again? Readers, do you ever get annoyed with a writer's lazy or bad  writing and give up on them completely?


Terri Nixon said...

I know exactly what you mean - I read Angels and Demons on recommendation, and enjoyed the story, while hating the writing. I will never read another Dan Brown book, unless someone else writes it! ;)

Absolutely hated all 3 1/2 Twilight books I read too; started out being interested in the stories, but the repetitive, boring, purple phrasing put me within reach of the bucket every time I opened a book. I'm not sure if that's because I've been reading as a writer, or if they're just utter shit!

There are some books I have though, which are absolutely appallingly written but SUCH fun I will never tire of reading them over and over.

My Jilly Cooper fluffy stuff, for instance. Shockingly poor in a lot of places when you place it against that list of "rules" we're supposed to follow, but absolutely beltingly good reads, a ton of fun and holding a real affectionate place in my heart.

I went right off James Herbert for using protags' names in every sentence, Jenn, it's really annoying, Jenn, don't you agree?

Great blog, (Jenn!) and I wonder if that was a little Freudian slip back there where you said "good lucky getting published!" ;)

Jenn Nixon said...

I'm ALWAYS doing that to the word luck. For some reason I always seem to put a Y on Florida too, no clue why.

I read the first Twilight and DaVinci Code. I think the movies in both cases are better.

I used to read a bunch of crappy romance books too, poorly written, but I loved the characters, so it held my attention for long enough to get through them!

Cherie Reich said...

Imagine reading with an editor and writer's eye.

It took a while, but I try to ignore all I know and just read more like a reader. Some books it is easier than others.

Jenn Nixon said...

Oh Yeah, Cherie...that has to be worse! I guess all writers have half an editor's eye...but then conversely, I wonder how books like Twilight & 50Shades made it passed an editor in the first place! eep

Denise Moncrief said...

es! Yes! Yes! It's hard to read for fun anymore. Maybe I am jealous. I've tried to read a few highly successful novels lately and have a hard time getting past Chapter One! How do these manuscripts get past the submissions desk? I think some authors must rely on connections rather than talent...

In one book, I found the same noun seven times in the first seven-sentence paragraph. I've been pummeled for telling instead of showing. Filtering and head pops. Only to find these no-nos repeatedly in best sellers! Argh! I couldn't read the Hunger Games because of the phenomenal information dump in the first few chapters. I'll never, ever read a book after seeing the movie again!

Will I give up reading? No! But I might be more choosy about what I read. I might avoid the best seller list and search for independent writers to follow.

Jenn Nixon said...

There are two possible explanations, well, ones that I've heard. When Bestselling authors get huge they either A. don't want to be edited or B. the editors are lax because they know the book will sell anyway.

It's a shame really, I've stopped reading a few great authors with great stories because I can't stomach the reading. I won't give up either!!

C.M. Michaels said...

I struggle with this as well, Jenn. In addition to the issues you highlight, I also find myself taking note of things I like about an author's style or contemplating how I would have worded a sentence, etc.

I usually have to scold myself a few times before I can get the writer in me to step back and just let me enjoy the story I am reading.

It's a shame, but I've had to let a couple of my favorite series go due to the writing quality taking a nose dive after the first couple of novels.

dystopian said...

It sounds like you see it a bit competitively, so perhaps you should cut out any opportunity for competition and read some old books or in genres you don't write in. If I want to read a book purely for fun I don't let myself take notes, which I do extensively otherwise. Or, pick books that are just about fun and nothing more - Kerry Greenwood does that for me.

Jenn Nixon said...

I've been trying to read more authors to expand my knowledge and see how others are doing, some self pubbed others small pubbed and some big pubbed. I'm finding that in all situations there is good and bad, obviously, but now that I have all these "rules" in my head, I get annoyed very quickly if it's something I've wanted/did do, and was unsuccessful. It's a bit of jealousy too.