An Informal Survey of Writers About Reading
Since I’m almost always reading something, I figured I’d drop an oar into these waters. I am a writer, serious amateur photographer and once upon a time I wrote books about how to use software and some very complicated hardware.
How often do you read?
I am always reading something. Recently I’ve been rereading books by Terry Pratchett. I’ve read them all before, but some only once and these are books that deserve at least two readings — maybe more.
Do you finish every book you start?
No. If I get a few chapters into it and it hasn’t grabbed me, I stop and move onto something else. I sometimes go back to books I stopped and I’m in a different head space — and I like them more. It’s really less about the book than about me and where I’m at.
If not, what causes you to stop reading a book?
If it’s too dark or violent or if the writing doesn’t sound like “real” language. Stilted language, overly flowery language, sex where it doesn’t belong.
Boringness. Some writers just don’t know when to quit. I once read three hundred pages and the author was still describing dinner. Dinner? Seriously? There weren’t even a recipe in the description. Just endless descriptions of every dish on the table. Who cared? I certainly didn’t.
What’s your definition of flowery language?
Too many adjectives, especially gushy ones. If one will do it, two are too many and if two will do it, five are far too many. Personally, I’m of the “less is more” school of writing. I often go back over something I’ve written and delete almost all the adjectives and I always like what I wrote better with less description. The reader should be able to “see” what you are describing without being told every detail. It reminds me of the single piece of advice Garry gave me about writing.
He said, “There’s nothing more annoying than a reporter standing in front of a video of a huge fire explaining that this is a huge fire. That’s what the video is for. You don’t need to describe what the viewer sees.” While obviously in a book, we aren’t looking at pictures, we ought to be able to “see” what is going on in the book without endless or elaborate descriptions. The way people stand, act, talk, relate to one another and their world should be the story. You should not need a lot of adjectives.
Sometimes, you don’t need any adjectives (or adverbs) at all.
Does flowery language discourage you from reading a book?
It depends on the book and the era in which it was written. The genre also matters. If it’s more than 100 years old, you have to understand the era if you want to “feel” the book.
How important is the first line of a book or story?
Not as important as what follows it.
Do you read reviews before choosing a book to read?
As in formal reviews from of critics or informal ones on Audible or Amazon or Goodreads? Mostly, I get suggestions from followers about books they like. Almost all my favorite books were gotten as suggestions from readers. Please keep them coming!
Do you read eBooks or are you strictly a physical book reader?
Not only do I only read eBooks, but I almost exclusively listen to Audiobooks these days. My eyes are not what they used to be — and a good narrator can put the book into my head. I love Audiobooks!
What book are you reading right now (or the last book you read)?
I just finished Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett and realized I had forgotten the entire plot. It was like reading it for the first time. I finished it this morning. Next up is the new autobiography of Mel Brooks read by Mel Brooks, All About Me.
Did you leave a review?
No, not this time. I’m an intermittent review leaver. When I remember, I write a bunch of them at one time, Amazon rejects a few for reasons I don’t understand and I just move on.