How Writing Is Changing This Reader
Crazy as it may seem, I'm about to make yet another commitment. Each month on the first Wednesday a website called Insecure Writer's Support Group invites insecure writers to submit a blog post to be included with other insecure writers' posts in what they call a blog hop.
This month, February, the question announced as a little prod to help us beyond a blank page is "How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?"
I almost instantly thought of several ways I'm being changed as a reader as I become more serious about getting words down on paper and eventually into a electronic document of some sort. I find myself paying closer attention to sentence structure and even punctuation in what I read. I figure if a miracle occurs and I find myself with a good story it would be a shame to have my sentence structure or punctuation distract the readers so much they giving up on the story.
I've been told I use too many commas. Now I'm probably erring on the side of too few commas, but I can pay attention to established authors' use of commas and eventually get it, like Mama Bear's bed, just right.
I read Strunk and White but the book Spunk and Bite by Arthur Plotnik advised Strunk and White's The Elements of Style is all well and good but contemporary style treats these elements as suggestions, not commandments. So, when reading a novel I now pay attention to those times when a great current author gets away with ignoring Elements. I try to discern what it is about this sentence or paragraph which caused the author to deviate a bit from strict rules of style (ala Strunk & White).
I think I found an example of someone following the rules but losing the reader due to a certain inflexibility. I had started reading a modern novel and haven't got around to finishing it for this reason. It seemed to be following Strunk and White pretty close because while following the rules the dialog came out sounding like something from the end of the 19th century though the story was set in the 1960s. I often found myself thinking, "Nobody in the 1960s is going to say that in a conversation."
Right now I can only think of one further way writing may have changed my reading habits. I had been actually reading fewer books but listening to more and more audio books. When I started getting more serious about writing I began to go back to holding books in my hands and using my eyes to read instead of my ears. Actually in my case I need to say "ear". I've only got one working ear right now. Did you know there's a ear bud called "One Good Earphone" which sends both sides of the stereo sound to one ear? I felt I needed to look at my reading in order to master my punctuation, sentence structure, and be able to decipher choices authors made as they jump back and forth between strictly following the rules and deviating from the rules.
I have changed my reading habits in at least these ways and probably others I'm not thinking of now as I write.
I fully intend to modify this blog post as I think about it, learn from others, and find more typos.