Sunday, September 29, 2013

Critical Reading: 4 things I look for

Since I have started trying to take writing more seriously, I have noticed a change in my reading habits.  Before I would enjoy the story for what it was, and move on.  Now I'm looking at things with a more critical eye.  I make mental notes of what works and what doesn't.  I look for things that can help me improve my writing. Every good writer also reads.  It's not all research!  All work and no play makes John want to give Godzilla a hug.  Godzilla doesn't hug...

1. Dialogue

This is something I feel like I struggle with.  I have gotten complements about my use of dialogue, but I am never satisfied with the way it turns out. I enjoy reading witty banter between interesting characters.  I also observe the nuances that give each character their unique voice.  One character says TOE MAY TOE another says TOE MAH TOE.

2. Pacing 

For me this is all about filling the gaps between major plot points.  How do you keep the story going?  Is it unbearably slow in between points in the action?  Do the pages keep flying by?  My favorite authors seem to keep me up until 5 AM turning pages until I can't stay up any longer by keeping a fast pace.  Sleep?  What are you talking about?

3. Story Structure

I am looking for the Hook at the beginning.  Do they use a Prologue? Is there a Reveal of some sort?  Is it obvious?  What was the timing of the Reveal? What is the conflict? Did we ever find Waldo?

4. Enjoyment Factor 

I am a sucker for a good story.  Who isn't? I can forgive minor errors or terrible moments of dialogue.  Self-indulgent prose filling the gaps between plot points.  I just ask myself, "What made this story enjoyable?"  That's what I want to add to my own writing.  Then I say "Weeeeeeeeeeeeee", and run around in circles until I fall down.

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