1. Hollowly
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    Hollowly Member

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    Case Studies

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Hollowly, Sep 3, 2009.

    I was just wondering if picking apart books you like, analysing them, to find out what you like about the writing and how to incorporate it into your own work, does it ruin the books to you? I'd like to write better but I don't want to sacrifice the books I love most to do so. I'd rather hazard on my own. So does studying the workings of a book turn you off the book?
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Absolutely not. You develop a deeper appreciation of the writer's craft.
     
  3. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    No, I like studying and analyzing texts. However, I do get annoyed when people overanalyze and jump to conclusions.
     
  4. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Precisely.

    I think analysing any text you read is worthwhile. But what I think is counterproductive is the kind of thing that they do in school English classes, reading into texts what isn't there.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i've never 'studied' any books in depth, or 'analyzed' any, just read as many by the best writers as i could get my hands on... then, when writing a novel for the first time, it came easily, having 'absorbed' all those examples...

    when i was unsure of how to arrange something, i'd just check it out in one or more books, to see how the pros did it... that's as far as i've ever gone in 'studying' and never felt the need to do any 'analyzing'...

    that said, i do advise some i mentor to do it, if they don't seem to have 'absorbed' all they needed to, in order to write well...
     
  6. DragonGrim
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    DragonGrim Contributing Member

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    I think it pays to have an understanding of symbolism. But I don't think you need to analyze books, but it doesn't hurt. Religion and philosophy studies I think are most worthwhile for me. And when I read, I like to take my time and appreciate the writer's skill. The worst thing I think a person can do is throw down a book and say "this is crap." Crap will teach a person as much as anything else.
     
  7. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Reading to appreciate a writer's skill is fine, but I feel one needs to study the text more in depth. If a writer wants to get better, I would argue that analyzing a text is important so that the writer can implement those literary techniques and subtleties in his or her own writing.
     
  8. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Yep, I'm with the others, in fact I'd say you need to be able to closely analyse the text in order to fully appreciate it. At late high school/uni level, anyone studyinf lit is expected to be able to write a 1000+ word essay based on what they can interpret from one brief passage, and its that kind of close reading that, for me, really opens up the wonderful world of literature....taking a little more time, looking a little more closely, picking up all the subtleties and nuances, the references and allusions, the patterns and games the writer plays...
    That said, not all texts will respond well to that kind of reading, so you mihg tfind yourself disappointed with some books other people seem to like if you can't switch off that analysis....
     
  9. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    No, not at all.

    When I read books, I don't start off analyzing it, I just read it and get a sense of whether or not I like it. As I read along, I tend to critique aspects of it just naturally--the author's phrasing of something, how they developed the characters or the conflict, how they moved from event to event, etc. When I'm done with the book, I might go back and look at parts of it as questions come to my mind as I work on my own story.

    The mantra by most published authors that would-be writers must read a lot (and write a lot, of course) is because books are the true classroom, in my opinion. We can answer people's questions on writing here at Writing Forums, but the best way to understand how to write a novel is to have read a ton of books and seen it for yourself. By paying a little extra attention as you read and simply reading a lot, you begin to consciously and subconsciously pick up the goodies that other authors have to give in their novels. As you continue to write a lot as well, you'll notice your craft improve.
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I frequently read novels twice. The first time is for the sheer enjoyment of the story, although even then I will notice brilliant or murky writing. The second reading, when I know all the plot elements the writer is pulling together, I can pay more attention to the writer's craft. Without knowing exactly where the story is going, I cannot fully appreciate what the writer is accomplishing, so I will always see things on the second pass that I would not pick up on during the initial reading.
     
  11. Hollowly
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    Thanks for the responses everyone, really answered my question (and then some!). Got a lot to go on and learn from.
     

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