01 October 2008

Reading Like a Writer

Carrie and I were talking Monday night about how writing has spoiled us on reading - that how, as writers, we tend to analyze what we're reading in terms of quality of craft. Oy, isn't that the truth. Nowadays it's very difficult to find a book that holds my attention, much less makes me forget I'm a writer!

Take, for example, the book that sits next to my bed. David Weber's Honor Harrington series, a multi-book sci-fi "space opera" saga, boasts a legion of dedicated fans. Sadly, I am unable to count myself among them. I've got the first novel in the series, and it's so rife with infodump and backstory that I can't bring myself to read more than three or four pages at a time. Basically, the only reason I haven't thrown it against the wall and into the trash is that I need something to lull me to sleep at night. (Ouch!)

Contrast this with Lois McMaster Bujold's Miles Vorkosigan series, also categorized as space opera: I read the first thirteen books over the span of a week. Yup. Thirteen books, seven days. Didn't get a whole lot of sleep that week, but it was worth it. Ms. Bujold's talent is mind-blowing; she sucked me in from the first and had me drooling for more. No analysis, not even for a millisecond. Nor was I ever tempted.

THAT is the essence of a writer's craft - to yank the reader into the story and make him/her crave that prose like crack. Unfortunately, not many modern authors have that appeal for me - one in ten, if I'm lucky. Which is why I'll probably have to make a run to the used bookstore this weekend to offload my overflowing box of rejects.

It is my goal in life to write as well as Ms. Bujold, that my books never qualify as wallbangers.

The quest continues.


Nan said...

This is a sad but true part of writing. They tell you to write what you read-what if you no longer read?
That's why I go to movies. For me, it's the only place where the craft witch doesn't appear and spoil my fun. :)