Reading: You know, what other people do with novels…

I read a novel over the weekend. I should have been working on my own story, but instead I read someone else’s. Ahhh…contented sigh. It was good to remember that I can read for pleasure, not just to critique or research or learn craft…I can just–READ!

The novel I spent my weekend with was Soul by Tobsha Learner. Ms. Learner had an intriguing plot and a unique set of characters to live out her premise. The book was beautifully crafted and twisted in just the right places to keep me from determining the outcome too far in advance. My only complaint is that she controlled the emotion a bit too tightly. She had wonderfully evocative scenes, but refused to give her characters free rein to tug at my heart-strings. The author failed to allow her characters to live up to their emotional potential and in doing so denied me the opportunity to completely merge with either POV heroine. Sigh.

Still, it was a beautifully constructed novel that I enjoyed intellectually. Too bad I didn’t connect emotionally.

A lesson to remember in my own writing. (See? Even when I’m reading for pleasure, I pick up craft tips. The perils of being a writer…) Where am I pulling my punches? Am I refusing to allow my characters to truly sing for fear of releasing something I might not be able to recapture?

Writing isn’t for the faint of heart…

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Reading: You know, what other people do with novels…

  1. Steve

    Wonderful point. How would you describe a moment where you connected with a character, and what emotions did the moment evoke?

  2. Inez Kelley

    I really need to read more. Reading for pleasure takes on new meaning once you start writing with purpose (rather than just for fun). You start noticing things you never did before; head-hopping, gerunds, passive voice, etc.

    I love it when I enjoy a story DESPITE all the ‘mistakes’ I am not supposed to make. Just makes me want to go NEENER NEENER NEENER to all those strict rule people out there.

  3. talesfromthecrit

    I love the name of this post lol. I read all the time. For a period of time I had some trouble learning how to just let it go and not crit ever book I read. But once I got past that I still enjoy it.

    AJ

  4. I should amend to add that Ms. Learner’s book worked for me well enough that I didn’t crit while I was reading. But after I finished, the story stayed with me and I had a vaguely dissatisfied aftertaste. It was only as I analyzed that dissatisfaction that I realized what bothered me was the lack of emotional connection.

    One reader’s opinion…and I’d still recommend the book!

  5. talesfromthecrit

    I just read an Erica Spindler book, and I’m a huge fan normally, it was the same for me. I just didn’t feel a connection to the characters. I kept trying and almost getting in there but never mind not really. And as we should all probably know, we don’t sell a story so much as an emotional connection.

  6. I can relate to this. I just joined Shelfari and one of the first questions is “What are you reading now?” All I could think was that I have the Little, Brown Handbook on my desk, I’m critiquing a friend’s novel-in-process, and I have about a hundred Google Books that I frequently check in researching my own novel. This is NOT reading.

    This summer, I was hospitalized for a week and a half. During that time, I (re-)read Jean Auel’s wonderful Earth’s Children series. I haven’t read anything since. Isn’t that terrible?

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