When I was little, I both loved and hated English class. I loved reading and discussing stories, but I absolutely hated sharing my opinion. Why? Not because I was shy…which I was. It was the reaction I would get from my instructor. It didn’t matter what grade or what teacher, I would share my thoughts and they would say “Well that’s…interesting.” After becoming an instructor myself, I now have sympathy for my teachers. There are times when students say things that throw me off. Sitting in silence to gather my thoughts is almost worse. So they went with this phrase, every time.
I used to think it was because I was weird. Again, I
probably am considering I find enjoyment writing novels in my spare time, but
not the point. Now I have realized it is the difference between how a reader and
a writer approaches a story. I have fun conversing with my friends more than I
ever did in English class. I don’t have to sensor my thoughts and try to mimic
what the teacher wanted. I can openly share my position. And, what’s even
better, is I can start to see the difference.
I think of plot structure and characterization when reading.
In fact, going through all of my reviews on Goodreads, I can see the stories I gave
less stars to always revolve around fallacies in the set up or unrealistic plot
lines. As I read, I cannot help trying to predict where the author is going. I’ve
gotten pretty good, but love the stories that still are able to surprise me
without cheating by withholding all the information. My mother, on the other
hand, gets wrapped up in the emotion. She is along for the ride.
This week, I finally got to encounter my “reader” side. I
have been looking forward to Allegiant by Veronica Roth for some time now. I
was so happy when it released this week. The first shock to my system is she
changed points of view. I felt put off by it. As a writer, I could see the necessity
of incorporating another viewpoint, but as a reader I wanted to exist only in
the same head that brought me to this point. Then, I started to criticize her
with my “writer” side, focusing on the technique of sticking to points of view.
That is…until I realized that I am guilty of this. I switched points of view between
The Curse of Atlantis and its sequel (hopefully out next year). I started
writing the story without switching, but it became necessary to the plot to
make the change.
This is what reviewing books is all about, I think. The
writer always has reasons, and most have to do with the structure of a plot.
The reader always reacts with emotion to the ride itself, not looking at the
nuts and bolts. The joy is when these two approaches synchronize.