Shannon Donnelly is back this month with a topic that I have spoken with other authors about, but never seen in a blog before. I can’t wait to read the comments, to see what you all think! Here’s Shannon:
Something happens when you read a lot—very often stories come to you. A lot of folks brush these off, or just don’t want the fuss and work of trying to take those bits and make something of them. But if you start writing the ideas down, you very soon start digging into the technical stuff. And then you start reading as a writer.
It’s like knowing how a magical act works—some of the enjoyment goes away when you know how that elephant really disappeared off the stage.
Generally, this isn’t a huge problem—but it can become one if it eats away at your enjoyment of reading.
You start to look for misplaced commas, for the wrong word used, for poor characterization.
You shake your head over awkward viewpoint transitions—you start to notice viewpoint transitions.
You sigh over weak dialogue—and become envious over sparkling wit on the page.
In other words, you keep leaving the story because you’re too busy taking it apart.
This does not make for a fun read—and even great books can suffer from an overcritical mind.
However, every now and then, a book comes along that’s so good that you want to settle back and be a reader again. This is the time to turn off the editor/analyzer and read for the pleasure—for the joy. This is a place to remember why you ever wanted to be a writer—because for a short time you are transported to another time, another world, and you get to play with a bunch of cool people.
Now a really bad book can do the same—if there are so many awful mistakes, it overwhelms the editing part of the mind and you can just marvel at the awfulness. (Bad movies do the same—they’re so bad they’re good.) It’s the books in between that can be difficult to read as a reader.
The longer you are a writer, the more you tend to lose that ability to step back into reading. But it’s actually important to hang onto this joy—it’s what got you started with stories, and it’s what will keep you going. This means you have to do a lot of hunting—and a lot of reading too. And it’s a good idea anyway to learn how to turn off the editor and stop nitpicking and just enjoy. Even if you know how the elephant gets off the stage, you can activate that wonderful part of the mind—and just pretend.
Shannon Donnelly’s writing has won numerous awards, including a RITA nomination for Best Regency, the Grand Prize in the “Minute Maid Sensational Romance Writer” contest, judged by Nora Roberts, RWA’s Golden Heart, and others. Her writing has repeatedly earned 4½ Star Top Pick reviews from Romantic Times magazine, as well as praise from Booklist and other reviewers, who note: “simply superb”…”wonderfully uplifting”….and “beautifully written.”
Her Regency romances can be found as ebooks on all formats, and with Cool Gus Publishing, and include a series of four novellas.
She also has out the Mackenzie Solomon, Demon/Warders Urban Fantasy series, Burn Baby Burn and Riding in on a Burning Tire, and the Urban Fantasy, Edge Walkers. Her work has been on the top seller list of Amazon.com and includes Paths of Desire, a Historical Regency romance.
She is the author of several young adult horror stories, and computer games. She lives in New Mexico with two horses, two donkeys, two dogs, and only one love of her life. Shannon can be found online at sd-writer.com, facebook.com/sdwriter, and twitter/sdwriter.