Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Dangers of Writing

I didn't realize when I started this journey that there are hazards involved. Sure, I could expect a few brave writers would be taken down by a cruel attack of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Others might succumb to Writer's Cramp. Paper cuts can be pretty vicious in the right setting, mind you.

Undaunted, I proceeded. Unaware of the dangers awaiting me as I pursued this craft. Alas, I have fallen into this trap, and I am not sure how to free myself from its grip.

I've become a critical reader.

It seems that honing my craft has trained my eye for certain things to look for in a book. I do it unconsciously. I'm looking for active verbs, strong adjectives, and tired cliches. I analyze what I am trying to enjoy. I think it is a natural process-handymen usually start out by taking things apart to figure out how they are built. Novels operate under a similar pattern.

Before I tried to understand writing, I wouldn't recognize a change in POV if you hit me with it (I wouldn't even know what a POV was). The author could head-hop and hip-hop for all I cared.

Now I'm reading an otherwise really good book, but the POV changes in each new paragraph keep pulling me out of the fictive world the author is trying to portray. I have to stop and figure out where I am: "What? I thought it was Suzy who was the POV character. Now it is Joe."

I'm really not trying to be so picky. It is operating under the hood anymore. I read, and I critique.

"Oh, that works."

"What were they thinking?"


Thinking back, there were sage writers who warned of this pitfall. Your reading may not be the same, they said. Ah, how I wish I could go back to the innocence of reading a bad novel and not knowing it...

On the other hand, I don't think so-but be warned, you who strive to write. This fate could befall you as well!

1 comment:

  1. Friends of writers also beware--do not be present when that writer is reading one of your favorite novels!


    I had a writer-friend get so frustrated with me because I taught her how to find comma splices in her own writing, which really distracted her from reading one of her favorite books that also had 'em.

    Of course, I don't think it helped that when I read it I pointed out a comma splice that was likely accidental…