"Welcome to Japan, folks. The local time is . . . tomorrow."
- from 30 Minutes Over Tokyo, The Simpsons, Season 10

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Reading as a Writer

This is cross-posted from the Absolute Write message board.

When I choose a book to read, I'll look for things like genre, type of main character (shapeshifter, spy, pirate, etc.), whether it's an author/series I've read before, and point of view.

While I'm reading a book for the first time, I hope to be engaged by the characters, their situation, and the world they inhabit that I don't notice little details. Afterwards though, I like to page through the book and/or think about what I read, sometimes even reread passages to get a feel for how the author handled things like chapter length, opening hook, major turning points, character backstory and description, whether each chapter ends with a hook or not, etc.. These are also the same things that can pull me out of a story while I'm reading it.

Some other things that can pull me out of a story are unbelievable character actions/reactions to a situation, especially when it contradicts with the character's backstory, too much and too closely repeating one or two details about the main character while not including other details about him/her, really short or really long chapters, especially when the really long chapters don't have any scene breaks, and when every chapter has to end with a hook.

Some of these things will make me not enjoy a book as much as I could have, while others will annoy me so much that it'll just take me a really long time to finish reading the book.

As a writer, I just try to incorporate the things I like into my fiction while avoiding the things I don't like. When I get stuck, or what to know how an author pulled off one of these techniques well, I try to analyze their work to see how they did it so I can try the same in my own writing. I think that's why it's important for authors to read non-fiction books about writing techniques and fiction books to see practical applications of that technique.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Happy Holidays

Well, it's December 1st already. I can barely believe it.

Pretty soon Christmas will be here, then the New Year, then my second baby will be born.

Just this last week my husband and I were wrapping Christmas presents and I was commenting how my belly wasn't so big the last time I was pregnant and wrapping presents, when my baby was due in April and not February. I needed my husband to help cut the wrapping paper just because my belly was so big I couldn't reach the other side, and even leaning over as far as I could, I could only reach about the middle of the paper.

Something about wrapping presents just reminded us how close we are to having our second baby. When I got really sick with morning sickness this past summer, it seemed like it would never end. Now I'm 29 weeks along. It's kind of exciting because my son was born at 37 1/2 weeks, so we'll see how close this one makes it to 40 weeks.

I didn't get much work done for NaNo this year. In fact, it was my worst year. But on the non-writing front, I made a lot of headway in cleaning my house. It's not perfect, but better than it's probably ever looked. Plus, my husband hung our stockings last night.

We also had Thanksgiving dinner for my husband's family at our place (which was the main reason to get all the cleaning done). Seeing all the tables and chairs crammed into the living room reminded me of holidays at my grandma's where there are so many people you can't see the floor. What can I say, I like the holidays. I'm just glad Thanksgiving's over and someone else is hosting Christmas.