Reading Novels After Writing One

The process of writing a novel, including the never-ending edits has forever changed the way I read someone else’s novel. Reading for pleasure is a new process. Instead of getting lost in a story, I find myself looking at the sentence structure, the grammar, and the descriptions. What techniques did the author use to make the characters believable or to allow me to see the scene in my mind? Are the things I imagine as I read the same thing the author intended for me to imagine?

 

One of my favorite things now is to ask my own readers what they ‘see’ as they read a certain scene or what they think my characters look like. My sister and I play a fun game where we find pictures of famous people who we think fit the parts in novels. Sometimes we pick similar people and sometimes we don’t.

 

After years of editing and re-writes, I find myself paying attention to the mechanics of writing in the books I read. If the author and I were both describing the same scene, would I have chosen the same word as the author? Would I have picked up on the same nuances as the author? Of course not. Each of us sees different things in the same scene. The mechanics of writing are fairly rigid while the style of writing is as different as each person. The key is to be able to separate the mechanics of the book from the story and determine why it works, or why it doesn’t.

 

I try to read for entertainment, but I catch myself rereading the paragraphs as I go along. The first read through is for enjoyment, and the second is to learn.