I love to read. Always have. Like most readers, I get lost in books. Magic lies between those pages. Or so I thought. But lately I've been looking at the books I read from a different perspective. I'm still interested in the stories, sort of, but I'm more curious about the author's tricks of telling the story. For example, with the book I'm currently reading, I keep noticing how the author is "showing" and not "telling." He goes into detail about minor facial expressions in order to get the character's feelings across and avoids filtering words most of the time. So I notice this and I think, "Oh, by talking about the character's arched eyebrows, the author is trying to show me that the character feels surprised." Stuff like that, only a bit more complicated. So I'm looking at how the author decided to tell the story instead of really getting lost in the story. I'm inspecting his choices and trying to learn from them. It's like watching a play but thinking about the costume and lighting choices instead of the story being played out. Or looking at a drawing and thinking about how many times the artist had to erase before that hand finally looked realistic instead of trying to figure out what the drawing means overall. This is both good and bad. It's good for my writing because I don't usually read books from this perspective. I'm picking up techniques. It's bad for the magic. Call me naive, but I thought stories were like magic, to some degree. They magically flowed out of the creator's head and they magically connect with their audience. Instead it's starting to feel like a series of tricks. The author is creating the illusion that it's easy, when in reality he had to pick up all these skills over years of practice and he now has to make very conscious decisions about exactly how he wants to express things. And these skills he learned are skills that almost any person could pick up if they worked at it. The story doesn't even have to be that great, as long as the writer knows all the tricks and how to implement them. I should be relieved by the revelation that these skills can be learned. That it's not magic. (And I do still believe to some degree that creativity does come from some lovely, magical place that no one can quite pinpoint. Creativity is practically synonymous with magic, in my head.) But part of me is sad. I have a strong desire to re-read all my favorite books to watch how all the magic breaks down and is proven to be very conscious choices made by the author. "She wrote this to set the scene. She wrote that to show how the character felt about this. She specifically wrote that so she could move the story forward. And so forth." It becomes too concrete. Too obvious. I know what the author was thinking, and I don't like it. It does make other author's seem more like me, and me feel more like I could one day be them, but... I feel like I just found out Santa Clause wasn't real, and I'm not so happy about that. I might never read books the same way again.