Today I’m blogging not as a writer, but as a reader. Well, partly. You see, lately I’ve been determined to read more into my writing genres. Reading opportunities can be difficult to secure, but I’ve been quite determined. In fact, to mix it up, I’ve made a habit of selecting random titles from authors I’ve never read before.
Through this recent reading spate I’ve discovered something quite dreadful. I’m turning into a book snob!!!!
Maybe it’s the ever developing inner–editor monster I’ve unconsciously fostered through reading from ‘the other side’. Perhaps it’s the failing of my eternal youth, betraying a slightly irritable, at times impatient, time greedy working mother. Could it be the shock that ‘best selling author’ by no means guarantees quality?
At times I’ve wanted to shout, ‘SHOW, don’t TELL,’ after wading through yet another information dump or explanation of how a character is feeling. Other things that set me skimming were overused speaker tags; constant or overuse of unnecessary adjectives and adverbs (in some cases in conjunction with the overused speech tags); plots that took half a book to get moving; or plots driven solely by contrived romantic misunderstandings or complications. (Hey, when you’re reading into the wee hours of morn, it’s a big ask to be patient with Mary’s seventh change of heart for the chapter!)
But amidst these frustrations were sparkling delights. Well developed characters, fully engaging plots, beautifully constructed relationships and dialogues had me effortlessly tuned in. NO head hopping! It made me realise that, as a writer, the little things really REALLY matter.
|The Little Things (Okay, maybe not these little things, but they are kinda cute!)|
Now for the confession – I’ve committed all these sins as a writer at various times. I’m sure I’m ignorantly committing others to this day. It’s one thing to say, ‘Show, don’t tell,’ it’s another for someone to clearly demonstrate it. I’ll never forget when, six months into studying creative writing, I re–read the first few chapters of an old manuscript I had on file. It was dreadful! In that moment I realised just how much I had to learn.
And I’m still learning. Constantly.
Something I’ve realised by my purposeful reading is how much this informs my writing. Seeing those little niggles in action really drives home the point! It also demonstrates how important it is to expose ourselves to the work of writers who are more experienced, with more highly developed skills.
For me, investing in my craft through education and being a part of a writers group have been two (of many) invaluable steps in honing my skills. But clearly, writers MUST read.
I’d love to hear how reading has cultivated your inner writer – and if/how you’ve evaded becoming a book snob in the process!
Adele Jones lives in Queensland, Australia. Her writing is inspired by a passion for family, faith, friends, music and science – and a broad ranging imagination. To find out more visit www.adelejonesauthor.com