Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Joining 'em

This week I'm exploring the relationship between studying and enjoying an art form.

On Monday I asked the question:
If study can make us lose our enjoyment of the art we love, is it still worth it? Everyone who commented think it is. I do too.

Yesterday I asked if there are ways we can manage our critical thinking better so it doesn't interfere with our enjoyment.

Today I want to take a different direction. I have decided to read one of my current books [a book that I am currently reading] by engaging my analytical and critical mind. I'll be making notes in the margins with the thoughts that occur as I read.

In other words, since I can't beat 'em, I'm going to try joining 'em. It's an experiment. I'll see how far I get and how much I learn and most important of all, if it completely destroys the reading process for me.

So here are some notes I've jotted down in the margins so far:

Her father's nervous voice. Her mother's anxious face. I hope the show-don't-tell police doesn't show up here. This works, in context.

...thought she looked ...much older than her thirty years. I don't think a young girl would think a thought like this. Sounds more like the author telling me the age of the mother and that she is tired and worn out.

Two new characters introduced, and not knowing their relationships to the narrator for three paragraphs--in which we hear about someone's mother, and detailed characteristics of a place--is too long for me. Especially when the place names are foreign and I have to work hard to keep them straight in my head, all the while not knowing who these people are whom I see lolling or oozing sex appeal.

Clever use of cultural references to let us know the time period.

Oh no, not catching her own reflection in the mirror and seeing a woman who stared back at her who is [fill in description.]

More next time.


Davin Malasarn said...

I love the last comment! This is an interesting experiment, Yat-Yee. Lately, I have been unable to read my book. I'm being completely over critical about it, so I've put it aside and am working on new material. Rarely, I'm able to analyze my own writing the way you are doing it. I think it is quite useful when it can happen though.

Yat-Yee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Yat-Yee said...

Oops. I should have been clearer: it's not a book that I wrote, but a book that I am reading.

Davin: I could never do that to something I've written. The best I can do is leave it for months and come back with slightly fresher eyes.

Corey Schwartz said...

Very interesting experiment! I don't know how editors ever read for pleasure!

Solvang Sherrie said...

I like to analyze books that I love to see how they express emotions or how they move a scene along. I think it's really helpful as a writer to be able to analyze that sort of thing.

Davin Malasarn said...

Sorry, for the mistake. I admit I wasn't quite sure. I should have asked for clarification. :P

Cheryl Reif said...

In theory, I think this is a really useful exercise; in practice, I can't manage it very well if the book is any good. I forget to analyze and just forge ahead reading! I go back afterward, tho, to analyze the writing and plot structure.

So are you going to share the title?

MG Higgins said...

I'm with Cheryl, I might start out planning on reading critically but the better the writing is, the more I get caught up in the story and forget! It's a fantastic exercise.

Lady Glamis said...

Hmm, this looks like what I did when I was in college. All the novels on my shelf are filled with notes. Usually, though, I was looking for things that worked, not things I could nitpick. That way I learned what was working.

I can't pull apart a published book in the nitpicky way you're doing, because I figure if it went through the agent, the editor, the publisher, etc., I should just sit down and enjoy it. But this is a great exercise! I'm excited to hear more later.