1. Lae
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    Lae Contributing Member Contributor

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    Productive reading

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Lae, Sep 9, 2014.

    Morning,

    Just finished reading Childhood's end by Arthur C. Clarke, i liked it. End felt a little rushed. I'm now reading The forever war by Joe Haldeman. Started off well, i like it so far and his style.

    When i read any book i read it to enjoy it, to take in the characters and plot etc. I'm contemplating re-reading some of these books to look at it more in depth, and try analyze the writing style and see it from a writing perspective. I dont like the idea of ruining a book because im too busy analyzing the writing.

    Does anyone else do anything similar?
     
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  2. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I analyse books I'm reading all the time. Sometimes, I come across a book that leaves something to be desired content-wise, but is written really well in terms of something I need to work on in my writing. So while I might have abandoned it previously, I will read it now like a how-to manual of sorts.

    There are so many books I want to read, I never seem to have patience for re-reading old ones. I did analyse several books and films a few years ago, when I was learning about story structure. These days, I have notes in Evernote, titled 'descriptions', 'transitions' 'dialogue' 'characterisation' 'sentences' etc, so whenever I come across something I like, that serves as a good example of a literary device or something I can use in my current work (not verbatim, as inspiration), I screen capture it from Kindle or the internet or write it out, if it's just something that occurred to me or that I heard. I find that having this kind of library of examples helps when I'm stuck.
     
  3. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    I rarely consciously "analyze" fiction while reading. I figure if the author did his/her job, whatever I need to know will stick, and I'll be able to call it up later.
     
  4. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I try to make a mental note of things that strike me (in terms of style or technique) while I'm reading. It's not unusual for me to go back and reread a book I've admired in a more analytical mode later on, sometimes even taking notes.
     
  5. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Why would this ruin the book? From my experience, assuming the book is good, analyzing it makes me appreciate and like the book even more. I've read Catch-22 several times now, and each time I notice things I hadn't noticed before. Part of appreciating books includes rereading them and really thinking about what's going on.
     
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  6. Lae
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    Lae Contributing Member Contributor

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    Perhaps I wasn't clear in my initial post. What i meant to say was that when i first read a book i read it for the story and the characters and to get fully immersed into it. That's how i enjoy a book, film or game.

    My idea this time around is to re-read a few of my recent books but with a more analytic eye.

    I would hate to ruin my initial enjoyment of the book on the first read by looking too in depth at the writing style etc, id rather just enjoy it. It seems a bit too 'researchy', i wouldn't get into it properly.
     
  7. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    In my junior year of high school, our Lit teacher, seeing that all but three in our class had already read Animal Farm, convinced the school to allow him to substitute Catch-22 instead on our reading list for the year (no small feat for an all-boys Catholic high school in 1969). I asked him what I should read, since I'd already read Catch-22 as well. "Read it again," he said. When I asked him why, he said, "What did you think of it when you read it?" I told him I thought it was hysterically funny. He nodded. "Read it again and tell me what you think." So, I did. And when I finished, I went to him and told him that I'd found it extremely bitter. "Read it a third time," he said. When I did, it was very philosophical.

    Which is how I started re-reading books.
     
  8. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I've often started out to re-read favourite books, thinking 'I'll analyze how the author wrote this.' And no. Doesn't work.

    If they are great books, I get sucked straight back into the story, and emerge out the other end much the same as I did the first (several) time around. Dazed, but happy. I can only analyze books that are not my favourites as I read them, because I'm not immersed in them. And at the end of the day, they're not the books I'm going to want to emulate, are they?

    I can certainly think about structure, etc, AFTER I've finished reading a favourite book, or think about how characters were developed, etc. Or go back to check phraseology, or how dialogue gets handled, etc. But not while I'm reading. When I'm reading, I'm in the moment.

    I'm just a sucker for a great story.
     
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  9. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Right now, actually. With my favorite novel. I have a copy of it in Google Drive: one doc for each chapter, in which I write many comments. For each chapter, I also have a separate doc where I write a plot synopsis and a separate doc where I analyze the themes and the overall story / storytelling techniques. Kind of like I am playing the role of both an editor and someone writing for CliffsNotes. I am about halfway through it.

    Only good things have come from this. I enjoy the story more (even though I recognize many flaws for the first time), I am learning why I enjoy it, and I am becoming a better writer.
     
  10. jaebird
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    jaebird Active Member

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    In a first read of a book, I like to just read it for enjoyment purposes only. Sometimes things will pop out at me that I want to make note of, but for the most part, I let myself get lost in the story. If it's good enough that I'll want to read it again, I go through and look for things that make the book good. How did the author word this? How did they describe that? Why did I like this particular character while hating another? How did they make everything tie together?

    My thoughts exactly.
     
  11. Swiveltaffy
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    Swiveltaffy Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you're worried about dampening the enjoyment of a story, then I would definitely avoid this overtly analytical approach in the first go of a work. When reading for a second or third time, however, I don't much see how you're going to create negatives, unless you discover problems in something you were originally blindly in love with. Sure, there's the likelihood that you won't become as immersed. Sure, there's a likelihood that you won't love the story as much on a second read when applying a stringent analytical eye; but, you have can reference your original love of the story in thought or memory. It is not as though you are removing a past appreciation of the novel, unless, as I previously said, your analysis provides disheartening insight. Then, this in-depth view of the work could create even more room for appreciation. As well, I would think, if you do this over time, it would become more second hand, and you may reach a point where you can simply read, enjoy, and analyze all at the same time -- for the most part. After all, some things are just damn hard to read, and one cannot simply ingest in a one-go sort of way.

    Moderation, a good balance, take and give -- key to all effective approach. I think doing a more gluttonous read for the first time would work well. Then, do a second to explore the intricacies. It is all prerogative, however.
     
  12. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Since I started writing, I've found it much harder to enjoy reading, because it's hard for me to turn off the analytical part of my brain and get lost in the story.

    I know it's a really great book when I'm able to just sink into it. And then I don't want to ruin the experience by going back and rereading with an analytical eye.
     
  13. bythegods
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    bythegods Banned

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    How come you didn't just ready Animal Farm again (and again) if that was the whole point Father Furtey was trying to make?
     
  14. HoraceCombs
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    HoraceCombs Member

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    I mostly feel emotional reading reactions, productive reading requires various things as a reader who read for Mechanics, To Identify basic craft elements also to Summarize and Organize your findings.
     
  15. Nightstar99
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    Nightstar99 Contributing Member

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    Forever War is an amazing feast of a book, I absolutely love it.

    I never analyse anything I read, I just like to enjoy literature and make up my own mind about it. That was one reason i couldn't stand studying English Lit in college.

    No writer writes like critics analyse after all.
     
  16. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    At this point I've gotten used to reading/enjoying the story and analyzing it from a writer's POV (not from a literary critic's) at the same time, although I never seem to be able to do in-depth dissections of novels. I can't stop the analysis from happening, it's running in the background while I'm living the story.

    My favorite novel breaks so many rules I couldn't -- as a non-pubbed writer -- even make them, I'm sure. :D.
     

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