1. Shaezy
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    Shaezy Member

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    Critical Reading - I can't stop!

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by Shaezy, Aug 24, 2011.

    I've recently had the opportunity to spend a lot of time on my writing - both actually writing my own work, and trying to study others' work and/or the craft of writing. It has been wonderful and I have really enjoyed it.

    The problem now is that I can't stop critically reading everything! And I've just started reading a novel that I simply want to enjoy but I find myself deconstructing the writing style, noting how the author used their words etc. I just want to read this one for fun, and I can't turn the thinking off!

    How do you read? Do you find that you are able to separate the two? Is critical reading a constant for you, or can you switch it off and just enjoy?
     
  2. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I read critically too. It's ruined things I used to enjoy, like the works of H.P. Lovecraft. I used to be a Lovecraft fantastic, but now I find him silly and near-useless. You will always develop and refine your tastes after all. You just need to find out the better writers.
     
  3. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I can turn critical reading on or off. If I want to read critically, I do. If I just want to enjoy a work and not think about the mechanics of it, then I do that.
     
  4. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I envy you.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I never turn off the critical reading entirely. However, I read many novels twice. The first time is primarily for enjoyment, although I will be aware of technique, and will notice when a passage either works extraordinarily well, or doesn't work at all. But the second reading is much more focused on the style, now that I know where the story is going.
     
  6. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I can't turn off the critical faculty, and I don't envy people who can. I like good writing, and I don't wish I could like bad writing too.

    If you're capable of telling the difference between bad writing and good writing, why would you waste your time reading the bad stuff?
     
  7. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Turning off the critical analysis doesn't mean you enjoy bad writing. It means you can enjoy a good story without being stuck in criticism mode while you are reading it.
     
  8. The-Joker
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    The-Joker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I know I can turn off the critical part of my brain while reading, but I always feel too guilty when I try to. I feel obliged to learn from every book I read, and unfortunately it really does tamper with the natural enjoyment of the book. The nagging compulsion to analyze each sentence, and absorb new techniques makes me pause numerous times, despite the reader in me just wanting to be swept away by a great story. I'm hoping that one day I will have learned enough to read books just for pleasure once again.
     
  9. Eunoia
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    Eunoia Contributing Member Contributor

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    Same.

    Sometimes I will find myself noticing the odd thing here or there but I brush it off because I'm reading to enjoy the book.
     
  10. spklvr
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    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sadly several enjoyable stories are poorly written.

    I try to not be too critical unless I mean to be, but I have some problems turning it off as well. Now and then I might get hung up on a really bad sentence that ruins stuff for me. I hate it when that happens when the story is good otherwise.
     
  11. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    That's an interesting commentary on how people view fiction. One goal people have in reading fiction is enjoyment. For most people, it is probably the only goal. Entertainment.

    So if you enjoyed the story, it's interesting to think of in what way you mean that it is "poorly written." It is clearly written well enough for you to enjoy it, and thus that goal of the work is met.
     
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    A story can be enjoyable, yet still be highly flawed.

    Obviously, the writing can't be all bad in that case, but the flaws still mar the experience. James P. Hogan has written some intriguing science fiction stories, even though the characters were rather shallow and not terribly believable.

    Ian Fleming's James Bond novels were trashy, bordering on soft core porn, with cardboard villains and generally vapid females. But they are still a good read.
     

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