Why I Can’t Just Read Anymore

So, one thing I’ve learned as a writer… I can’t just read for enjoyment anymore. Being a writer has permanently wrecked reading for me.

And that sucks.

Let me give you a few examples of what I mean.

I’ve recently purchased a new series on Kindle that I don’t really know much about – ok, I don’t know anything about – but it got good reviews and the cover art looked impressive (yeah, yeah… judging a book by the cover…)

So, I began reading. The story is quite engaging, if somewhat cliche and “done” already, but I always enjoy a good ‘what if the whole world got wiped out by a virus’ book, so I continued on.

Then I began noticing things. Now, I can’t call these grammatical errors, nor spelling mistakes. Rather, these are issues with flow and tense that only another writer would possibly pick on, but – and here’s the annoying part – they totally jolt me out of the story!

Example one:

“Mia grinned, grabbing the bird without incident, and deposited it through the sun roof.” (from “The Breakers Series: Books 1-3” by Edward W. Robertson)

What’s my issue with this? It’s the tense. She did something – she grinned. Then she’s doing something – grabbing the bird without incident. Then she did something again – deposited it through the sun roof.

If that sentence were mine it would read: “Mia Grinned. She grabbed the bird without incident and deposited it through the sun roof.”

But it’s not just tense issues, the length of some of the sentences in this book just overwhelm me.

“Once a week, they broke into a house and pulled dry goods from pantries and shelves, snagging batteries and books and clothing; they drove to movie theaters and collected cases of M&Ms and Coke and unpopped popcorn, some of which they planted to see what would happen.” (from “The Breakers Series: Books 1-3” by Edward W. Robertson)

I nearly became lightheaded trying to read all that! Why semi colon the middle? Why not full stop and new sentence?

What’s my point? Me who has absolutely zero published novels to my name pulling apart Mr Robertson’s works? I guess it’s twofold. One, do other writers find reading is ‘wrecked’ for them, and if so, can you look beyond technical writing still and get sucked into the story?

And two, this proves the necessity of a fastidious editor!

31 thoughts on “Why I Can’t Just Read Anymore

  1. I can relate to what you are saying. I’m plodding through Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein at the moment; it’s a challenge for me to keep going with the flowery Nineteenth century language, plot inconsistencies and hyper-emotion. But I keep on reading, a little bit each night, because in most books I find something I can learn to enhance my writing. And it’s comforting for me to know that even the main-stream publishers’ pet authors are not “writerly” perfect.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I find this with a lot of “The Greats”.
      The amount of ‘head hopping’ in King’s The Stand got me lost a few times. Is it just that we’re (writers) more aware of do’s and do nots than in the ‘old days’?

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Hey!!!! Missed you..
    I absolutely understand this. I am a grammar, syntax, flow, and general wordage nazi!! If you can’t see your errors, get a brilliant editor! Don’t publish crappy crap because anyone can these days! I find it veeeeeeery had to enjoy books lately. I always turn back to one’s I’ve read before!
    How’s the job going? Hope all is well xxx

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Jess, you’d fit right in here in Gloucestershire UK. There are a lot of people, the vast majority of them non-writers who are the same way about novels. I had the experience from my local books store where someone bought “He Was Weird” and brought it back stating he was unable to read it due to all the spelling and grammatical errors. There is another bookstore 15 miles away from me who won’t take any self published novels for the same reason. But I know what you mean. When writing that novel, I read three other novels about the same subject, strictly out of fear of being accused of plagiarism.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Funny thing was we went to McDonald’s this evening and my wife, who used to work there, was heavily critical of her quarter pounder. So, you may be onto something here.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. I’ve definitely had similar experiences. Sometimes the merits appeal to me so strongly that I naturally overlook them, sometimes I specifically read something right before bed, when my tired mind isn’t sharp enough to catch everything 😅.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. If I run into too many problems in a book I rarely finish it. I have seen some big names get away with things (POV hops, tense issues, etc.) that my editor would never allow but I guess when you’re a best-selling author you can bend the rules.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah Im getting to the ‘not being able to finish’ point with this series. I think it’s good that your editor is so tough; I didn’t encounter any of these issues when I read yesteryears. Hm, now I know what I can replace this series with! 😁


  6. I’m only a writer of my own personal blog, but I can understand what you’re saying. I am turned off by anything that has grammatical issues or doesn’t read smoothly. I’m in no way an expert, but it’s hard to finish a book or read a webpage that has misspellings, lack of punctuation, etc. It drives me insane! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I think most writers are in the same boat. I still love to read and most of the time I enjoy the story and ignore the goofs. But there have been a few that needed to be in the Worst Books of All Time Hall of Fame. One book had such weird characters names it was impossible to keep track of them. and I couldn’t read past page 1. Another book I read halfway through before putting down was written by an author that loved adjectives and adverbs. She averaged 14-18 per sentence! I lost one character and stopped reading before I found out if he was coming back. I may pick her book back up and finish it. Another book did not end. I thought of two possible endings and was curious which one the author used. It was book 1 in a series of 4. The author nicely typed at the end of the book that if you wanted to find out the ending you had to buy book 2. It was actually a well-written book and I probably would have bought the rest in the series, but I don’t like to be held a gun point to buy it.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I find it interesting how your point of view is so technical while mine is much less so. I don’t care so much about the structure of sentences as you do, except when I can’t get a handle on the voice/flow. I have read some books where the structure of the author’s sentences literally do NOT compute in my brain. But usually I don’t care too much about single sentences or paragraphs. Though, if a scene has discontinuity in it, then I rage all over the place. Hahaha!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m a pretty technical writer. As an infj – code for procrastinating perfectionist – things have to be just so otherwise I tend to freak out. My writing is like that and I guess I expect others’ writing to be the same.

      Liked by 1 person

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