Blog 0010 – Reading as a Writer

I don’t blog often.

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My TEN fiction books to READ before the END OF 2014!

[x] The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett

[  ] Flatland by Edwin Abbott

[x] Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson by Georges Ivanovitch Gurdjieff

[  ] The Web Between the Worlds by Charles Sheffield

[x] House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

[x] The Women Who Walk Through Fire Vol.2 Reader Edited by Susanna J. Sturgis

[x] Conscience Interplanetary by Joseph Green

[  ] Twilight of the Idols and The Anti-Christ by Friedrich Nietzsche

[X] Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

[x] Solitudes and Silence by Conrad Baines Talbot

Bonus [  ]: Transition by Iain Banks

I’m looking forward to all of these.

Now, reading as a writer can be different than reading like a reader.

It can involve an entirely different perspective by noticing the mechanisms and techniques the other writer used, such as analyzing the dialogue chosen. When I read as a writer, there are three approaches I like to take…

The first approach is to read slowly with breaks in-between chapters. This way, the absorption feels as if there is deep comprehension and I am not easily carried away by excitement towards the story (which can sometimes be distracting).

I can contemplate the techniques and wonder if I would use them in the same way. This starts a process of picking and choosing, in which, those elements that I choose to explore will appear in my writing for the next 3-4 months.

The second approach is the opposite and mostly used for shorter novels (<75k). For these, I read as fast as possible and any analysis that pops up is recognized, but doesn’t create pause. Keeping scrap paper to jot notes down is excellent for this approach, but sometimes just writing in the margins of the book works too.

By the time I finish reading, I sometimes have pages that I made note to return to/reread. Otherwise, this bomb-like absorption instantly affects my writing. For the next week, I write faster, but my style inevitably aligns with the author I had just been reading. This type of absorption has an expiration date and after a month has passed, all energy/inspiration has disappeared and I settle back into my own style.

Finally, the third approach could be a combination of the first two (splitting the work into parts, reading those parts fast, then stopping and slowly re-reading before moving to the next part), but it is not. Instead, my third approach to reading like a writer is, more or less, bibliomancy.

With this, I pick up the book and randomly choose a page to start reading. Flip through the book wildly and without abandon, read a few pages at a time, make notes and examine techniques. I usually reserve this approach for books that I have already read, books that I am looking forward to reading, but can’t yet and books I never intend on reading entirely.

So, those are three ways I like to read as a writer. When I’m reading as a reader, I usually zoom through a story like it’s meant to be a movie and don’t revisit. Sometimes, I read actual scripts. Other times, I just watch movies… and pretend that it’s for dialogue work. *wink*

A few blogs ago, I mentioned Devin Townsend, Arjen Lucassen, and Pink Floyd, so I wanted to mention some other musical artists that influence my writing.

This blog, I’d like to highlight these musical artists; GusGus, , Com Truise.

Well, back to organizing Excel spreadsheets for my top four novel projects. I’m figuring out a new color-coding/tab system to keep track of major/minor details so that come this winter, I’ll be able to freely write without having to make fly-by decisions about specific world mechanics and being limited by scattered notes (looking through tons of papers hampers my momentum).

I like to give major world elements some thought (couple of weeks or so) before committing to technical aspects, excel spreadsheets help keep track of those choices. Spreadsheets can also be great fun to keep track of word count, if you’re willing to update it every day or so.

Dominika (July 21)

TL;DR – I’m too lazy to make a short version of this. Lulz.


2 thoughts on “Blog 0010 – Reading as a Writer

  1. I loved the colour of magic by Terry Pratchett, he’s one of my favourite authors :)

    Your approach to getting through your reading list sounds like a good idea, something I am going to have to look at myself :D

    • A while back I read the first half of the colour of magic and loved it, but hadn’t gotten the chance to finish it until recently. My partner has most of the Discworld collection, so I’m shamelessly planning on reading through them – but definitely going to start with Colour of Magic.

      Have fun with it! :)

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