Wednesday, February 01, 2017

IWSG: Reading as a Writer

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means hundreds of us will be posting about our insecurities. If you haven't yet, join in. You'll be glad you did!



Each month we have a question. This month's question is:

How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?

Way back in the early days of my career--probably while most of you were still in high school or whatever--I attended a workshop on Goal, Motivation, and Conflict. It was hosted by Debra Dixon and based on this book of hers:



I detailed the entire process in a previous blog but basically, it's a way of brainstorming your story. Every character has something they want, a reason for wanting it, and something standing in the way.



At the start of the workshop, she (or someone in the workshop) said something important. "Be prepared to never enjoy a movie again."



Once you've learned to create a plot, you do begin to pick things apart. It also makes it easier to predict the ending in unpredictable stories like mysteries. You learn that a good writer "plants seeds" throughout a story so that something doesn't pop up unexpectedly at the end.



Does it completely disrupt your enjoyment of a good book? No. It does limit the number of books you see as good, though. Am I the only one who abandons a book a couple of chapters in if it sucks?



What do you think? If you're a writer, do you find you enjoy books less? If you're a reader only, do you keep reading all the way to the end even if a book is bad?

62 comments:

  1. Sadly I wasn't in school at that time...
    But once you learn to do something right, it's hard to unlearn it and mindlessly enjoy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is true! Although oddly, I can still enjoy Hallmark movies--only a few, though. If it doesn't seem well written in the first 15 minutes or so, I stop watching.

      Delete
  2. I'm so om your wavelength here. The really frustrating one? When I get the ending of the movie wrong because I've come up with something better!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've actually gotten book ideas from watching a movie or reading a book and coming up with where I THINK the story is going in the early part of it, only to find they didn't go in that direction.

      Delete
  3. I actually enjoy picking apart movies and books, to find the beats, figure out what the writer made certain choices, etc.

    Drives my wife nuts, though, cause I usually can't keep my mouth shut about it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It definitely drives everyone else crazy. I've learned to keep my mouth shut!

      Delete
  4. When I was younger, I used to finish every book I started. Not anymore. Life is too short. Unlike my TBR pile. :)

    I remember an episode of The Big Bang Theory where Amy basically ruins the Raiders of the Lost Ark movie for the guys by pointing out something which I won't repeat here - no spoilers! Hysterical. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I remember that. And didn't he ruin Little House on the Prairie? He made a good point, but I'm not sure what it was!

      Delete
  5. Hi Steph - I still can't pick apart a book or movie ... but I do get frustrated sometimes at the lack of sophistication at times ... I am rejecting books I don't like, but getting really stuck into books I'm totally hooked on ... so well written: then something will send me off to write a post about it!

    Cheers Hilary

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Definitely. I can't read bad books or watch bad movies. That's one thing writing definitely ruins!

      Delete
  6. I've said many times that I have a 50-page rule. Recently I chucked a book on page eight. Posted today about stopping my reading to watch the movie version.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh yeah, I definitely won't make it to page 50 if it's bad!

      Delete
  7. I've found books I didn't care for, but not enough so as to not finish them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wish I could say that! I used to feel this need to complete them, but there are just too many good ones out there to read.

      Delete
  8. I rarely give up on books, but it has happened. I enjoy reading just as much now as I did as a kid, thank goodness.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's one thing that hasn't changed for me, either!

      Delete
  9. I absolutely do give up on books that don't hold my interest or are written badly. Time is too precious.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly! There are TOO MANY other books to read, too! Every minute I waste reading a bad book is one I could put toward something good.

      Delete
  10. Good post, Stephanie. I've gotten to the point where I put a book down or turn it off after a few chapters if I can't really get into it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think that's something many of us learn to do after a while.

      Delete
  11. I'm probably a tad more critical as a reader, but I don't let it ruin my enjoyment of reading. I'm probably harder on myself as a writer because I think about the reader and his or her criticism. It is a double edged sword.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think readers aren't as critical as we think they are!

      Delete
  12. I very rarely read a book where I don't figure out the ending well before I get there. It does ruin thrillers for me. I remember Jennifer Armentrout posted online that readers were commenting on how she had them fooled and they didn't see the killer coming. I knew who it was in the first chapter. :( Nothing against Jennifer. We just apparently think alike. We do write in the same genres though, so that's to be expected.

    I also ruin TV shows and movies for my husband and daughter all the time. They're always complaining because I'll blurt out what's going to happen. It's like I can't even control it. LOL

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I keep my mouth shut...I've learned that the hard way! You could write the ending you predict on a piece of paper and tell them to open it at the end and see if you were right!

      Delete
  13. THE MOVIE THING. Totally.

    I'm a finisher. It has to be REALLY bad for me to put a book down, but I have. Many times. There are clues that an author doesn't know what they're doing, but they do sometimes surprise you. Still, the clues I'm talking about are really obvious--like a character who can't stay in character.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I used to be a finisher...but my to-read pile got so high (theoretically speaking, since it's on my Kindle) and I didn't want to waste time on books that weren't good.

      Delete
  14. I find I give up on books a lot more quickly now that I'm a writer; I know that if I'm not enjoying it after a couple of chapters, that's unlikely to change.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think that's true of me, too. I've developed an intuition about how a book's going to be based on the first chapter or so.

      Delete
  15. Thanks for visiting my blog - I just did my IWSG post and remarked that I do put books down after a few chapters.

    My boyfriend also hates watching movies with me because I will predict endings if I get bored. I'm right most of the time :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think the best thing to do is say, "I know how this will end." Then write it down on a piece of paper and set it aside. At the end of the movie, hand it over to prove you knew!

      Delete
  16. I didn't got to the workshop, but I read that book too;)
    I find it difficult to stay with a book that doesn't grab me right out of the chute or pretty quickly thereafter.
    Piper Morgan grabs me:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aww, thank you! Debra Dixon does a great workshop on it...I think she still does them sometimes. I'd definitely recommend it if you ever see her coming through your town.

      Delete
  17. I seem to be harder on writers than before I started writing, and I think it's because I want the writer to be considerate of my time more than anything. I slash so much from my own writing in hopes that readers will feel I respect their time and am in no way wanting to drain what little life they have.

    So if a writer is banging away and filling the page with bloated fat, I get upset. If the writing is seriously tight, I enjoy the hell out of it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Absolutely...don't waste my time! That's a great way to look at it.

      Delete
  18. I have dropped off on more books lately to be honest. My pick apart senses come on most though when I'm not enjoying a movie. There was more than one of those for me last year in theaters. I was not a happy camper about it.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I'm definitely better at picking apart movies and TV shows. I think it annoys my mother. :) For two episodes in this past season of Killjoys, I kept pointing out lines that sounded like death foreshadowing for one character, and at one point I screamed at the TV, "Oh come on! They're laying there unconscious for way longer than the other guy did and she looks dead! If this isn't foreshadowing, I give up!"
    The character died like one episode later. My mom thinks I read spoilers. :D

    ReplyDelete
  20. What a warning--to be prepared to never enjoy a book again. I can see that. I'm thankful that hasn't happened to me. I don't abandon books, but I do find myself analyzing how they're making their point. It's often quite fascinating.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Life is too short to read an entire book that isn't going to grab me. I'm one of those strange people that read the ending, and if I dislike it, I won't waste my time.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I agree with being able to pick apart every detail of a book or movie but there are some i can still read through pretty well. Anymore i look for character development and situations where you get to know a character. Sure i can tell what the ending is going to be from a mile away but if the characters make me smile and feel for them then its all well in the end

    ReplyDelete
  23. I'm still able to enjoy books, but I have been stopping some when the plot just doesn't catch my attention.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I'm not sure if I abandon books earlier now because I read them from a writer's perspective or if it's just because I'm getting older and have less of an attention span.

    ReplyDelete
  25. "Be prepared to never enjoy a movie again." Ha ha ha! I never figure out the plots of books and movies so I obviously don't know this plotting technique well. But I did attend a writing workshop by Jennifer Crusie and she talked about goal and conflict for the protagonist and antagonist. The best stories, according to her, is when the antagonist's conflict blocks the protagonist's goal (or something like that). I found her notes about this online http://arghink.com/2010/06/the-basics-of-fiction/

    Happy writing!

    ReplyDelete
  26. Hi Stephanie! I have read some real klunkers, and I have evolved a bit from years ago. I used to stick it out and read the whole book. Not sure why? Maybe I felt it was a war or something, and I had to win it.
    Now, if I don't like the book, I stop reading it. Life is too short for that stuff! On to another book that I'd actually like to spend time with :)
    Ceil

    ReplyDelete
  27. Hello, Stephanie. I certainly am quicker to set aside a book that disappoints. Perhaps it's because I now know more about story structure and the craft of writing; perhaps it's just the curmudgeonliness of age. Either way, life is to short to read boring books. I do love it when an author surprises me with a plot twist that makes sense, and that I didn't see coming.

    ReplyDelete
  28. This is exactly the way I feel about stories. My brain picks almost all of them apart, and mostly I can't stop it from doing so, unless I've stopped writing or (worse) editing for a few weeks. And even then, my brain still wants to tear any story it gets to into it's component parts.

    Right now, I'm watching Teen Wolf because my target fan base seems to love it. And... part of me is like: "Yeah this is cool." The other part is baying for blood because the writers are focusing on the horror (i.e. tension and jump scare) aspects to the cost of the story as a whole.

    But then, I have over 200k people who've read my weakest book on Wattpad and who absolutely adore it.

    So I'm guessing readers are way way waaaaaaaaaaaay more forgiving than I am.

    ReplyDelete
  29. The older I get, the more convinced I become that life is too short to finish "bad" books.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I'm no writer but I've been known to abandon a book early on if it doesn't seem to be up to snuff'.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Great post. Posting late. Had a crisis yesterday that kept me away from my computer and getting my commenting done. I have that book. I like it. Gonna check out your post about it too. Your site looks great. Happy IWSG Day Belatedly,
    Juneta @ Writer's Gambit

    ReplyDelete
  32. My husband does this too now with the picking apart of plot in movies because he has spent so much time talking with me about my books. STill love movies though, so that's good. :)

    ReplyDelete
  33. I'm not sure if it's a result of my writing, but I have little patience with books. I won't finish one unless it hooks me. If I find I can put it down with very little trouble, I likely won't pick it up again. I definitely pick apart characters and plot points, constantly asking myself how I think the author wants me to feel and how I really do.

    ReplyDelete
  34. My husband thinks I'm a genius at predicting movies, but yeah, you get good at picking up on the plot droppings (is that a term?)

    I used to never abandon a book, but now I will, especially if it's large press. I am a little more forgiving of small and indie since they don't get the stringent edits. And no, I've never abandoned one of yours. :)

    ReplyDelete
  35. I've become obsessed with listening to books! I was so sad I had no time to read but then discovered audible :)

    ReplyDelete
  36. I don't think I enjoy books any less, but I think I enjoy them differently. If I just fly to the end of the book, I'm more likely to go back and figure out why it worked, and if I can't finish one (or won't) I insist on knowing the why for that, too.

    ReplyDelete
  37. I have to admit, if a book doesn't grab me in the first couple of chapters, I don't finish it!

    ReplyDelete
  38. As a kid, I read books and watched movies for the fun of it. Now that I'm much older and friends with authors and bloggers, I'm much more critical of both. Though I still really love the fun of it, I find that being more detailed gives you more to talk about with friends. But if a movie or book doesn't grab my attention within the first 1-2 chapters or scenes, I'm outta there. (lol)

    ReplyDelete
  39. Hope you have a pleasant, productive weekend, Steph.

    ReplyDelete
  40. oh wow I'm so glad I read this post! Yes! I've become a "plot predictor" since I started writing. It's funny because my family and friends don't like to watch movies with me now. They say I always spoil them for them! :) I always go like "OH I KNOW! Wait and see! She is going to tell him now she is the killer" LOL! Great Post

    ReplyDelete
  41. Like Elizabeth, and others around the IWSG community this month, I'm no longer afraid to stop reading if I don't enjoy a book. Super post, Stephanie. Thanks for sharing and have a great week.

    ReplyDelete
  42. I stay with a book I'm reading unless it just really does nothing for me. When I finally decide I haven't a clue what's going on, I put it away.

    ReplyDelete
  43. I try to pick only books I hope to give a 5 rating. And, yes, I do watch structure and pacing more closely now, especially if I'm reading memoir, my genre for now.

    ReplyDelete
  44. I find I enjoy books more because I am so impressed with how authors are able to skillfully do things like plant seeds along the way.

    ReplyDelete
  45. I'm definitely a more critical reader than before. Sometimes it amazes me to see what gets past editors from major publishing houses.

    Pat
    www.patwahler.com

    ReplyDelete