Sunday, December 6, 2015

Critical Reading

This week is the first real vacation I have taken all year. Every other time I have taken time off from the day job, I have spent it writing, blogging, promoting, blah blah blah. Before taking off on vacation I picked up a new book. I don't know why I keep buying books at a rate much quicker than I read them, but sometimes something catches my eye and I can't resist. I love stories as I'm sure many of you do as well. I don't spend money very often, but when I do it is usually on movies, books, and pictures of Ryan Reynolds in a pink tutu.

One of the books I have been reading is Pygmy by Chuck Palahniuk which I am considering dropping like a twerking booty. Similar to many of his other books there are a plethora of clever phrases within, but the way this novel is presented makes reading it akin to stabbing ice picks into my eyes repeatedly. The first book of The Maze Runner series is another that I am currently reading. I don't care much for the juvenile characters nor the uninspired dialogue, but the background world and story overall are interesting. Several questions run through my mind while I am reading. What is working and what isn't? Why is it or isn't it working? What would I change to make it better? Who would win in an epic rap battle between Danny Trejo and John C Reilly?


The book I picked up recently is called Bats Of The Republic by Zachary Thomas Dodson. Everything about the novel is beautiful so far. I love the cover, the style of writing, the production and graphics within the novel, the new book smell, and everything else. I am only 58 pages into it so it is still too early for a verdict. The reason I am only 58 pages into the novel is due to my deconstruction process.

By deconstruction I mean going through and asking myself why I like or do not like parts of the book. I try to find the root cause of what it takes to build those iconic moments. Sometimes it is an interesting phrase or description, and others it includes a more elaborate set up. For a simple description I might read it three or four times before moving on. For more complex cases I may go back and reread earlier parts that helped to put together this particular moment. Each little piece that fills in the puzzle matters.

How Can I Use This?

Now this is the tricky part. Everyone has a different writing style. What have you learned from reading? It is important to consider if what you have learned will fit with your style. You may want to write like Shakespeare, but sticking a feather up your butt doesn't make you a chicken. Taking tricks from other authors can help you grow and evolve as a writer, but if it doesn't play nice with what you already do then it probably isn't for you. As much as I love Palahniuk's internal and external dialogue, it isn't something I can use for my own writing. The world building of The Maze Runner is something I can definitely sink my teeth into though.

Anyone who is seriously trying to make writing a career should constantly try to improve their craft. The best way to do so is through practice. Write a lot, read a lot, build castles out of Legos or words... yea words work better for writing.

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