Monday, May 09, 2011

Reading as a writer

So I'm in the early middle of the book The Diviner's Tale by Bradford Morrow, and I'm finding it really slow reading, which surprised me because I love the premise of the story and usually read this type of fiction pretty quickly. I think the reason for this is mostly due to the fact that it's written as a mystery with a lot of backstory woven in early on in chunks--and now I'm reading with a writer's eye.
In my current WIP, I struggle with the art of weaving in the backstory and mystery elements without either going off track of the plot, or worse yet, losing the reader's interest. So, as I read this book, I am of two minds--one the reader, trying to soak up the story and be taken in by the fictional world, while the other mind is the writer who wonders what is working and what is not in this type of backstory delivery. I'm still not sure what I think about it, but it's certainly food for thought about how to handle my own writing challenges.
I also notice the voice of the character very strongly in this book, which I think is a good thing.
One stylistic point that is irritating me is that in several scenes conversations are not listed within quotes, but instead start with emdashes for each speaker's lines. Like:
--She told me to go the store.
--What did she need?
--Apples and bananas, said Jane.

These seem to be when the protagonist is recounting conversations not overheard directly by her, but still, I'm not sure it's worth the distraction...Sometimes it starts to sound like a voice-over in my head, which I'm not finding enjoyable.

Do any of you have thoughts about reading as a writer, or these kinds of issues?


The Desert Rocks said...

I totally have these issues with my WIP- I also love reading- Anita Shreve does the dashes for things she recollects or things the characters are thinking. I hope I'm solving my backstory problem by doing different perspectives. I write one chapter from one character's point of view and then another character's point of view after that. I'm rotating like six character points of view and I'm trying to make sure everything serves the story.

William Kendall said...

I had this kind of issue myself when I started out. I needed to start the book fifteen years in the past for certain characters, which meant my main characters wouldn't even turn up until the fourth chapter.

Like Eve, I went with using multiple perspectives.

Betsy said...

I must (sheepishly) admit, I didn't get very far in the book before I had to return it to the library...hope to finish it this summer.