Monday, October 3, 2011

Ruined Reader?


A former judge once said he found it difficult to enjoy reading. His training in the law made him dissect every word.

Several weeks ago, I asked a question at the end of my post about whether or not typos, misspellings, and other mistakes ruined the reading experience. Most people noticed the mistakes, but forged ahead. Some found it almost painful.

When I attended workshops and read craft books, my errors stood out like a huge ink blot. My observations weren't limited to my work, but also included the many books I read. I chose to overlook the minor annoyances and shut down the internal editor. If the problems overwhelmed the story, it became almost impossible to keep reading.

Once I understood some of the mechanics involved in writing, my appreciation for a well-written book and great storytelling skyrocketed. When the author's story world drew me in, it was nothing short of awe-inspiring.

Question for Writers: Has your knowledge lessened the pleasure of reading a good story that isn't well written? Do you edit as you read?

Question for Readers: What makes you throw your hands up and quit reading a book?

17 comments:

Marja Meijers said...

As a reader, Susan, I have been quite annoyed with typo's and such, but it doesn't keep me from reading, especially if it is a good story!
As a writer, I cannot believe I am still discovering mistakes after reading and editing my books a zillion times.... each time I vow to do a better job :)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Susan .. I'm re-reading a book and another version of it .. and it's still got typos in it .. completely takes me off side!

In comments or blogs I don't mind so much - as I understand time constraints ..though I'm irritated when I find my own - and do rather more often than I admit.

I find I write you're for your, and there for their rather more often than I should .. why the brain doesn't get it right and it should - it's the brain's fault .. not mine! Frustrating ..

Mostly people's work is pretty good - and I'm aware that though people are well educated there's that element of 'dyslexia' that's more prevalent than I'd realised .. and we have to remember people may be writing in a second-language ..

Cheers - it can be ruining .. it's a sweat to finish this book! Hilary

Jessica Nelson said...

Typos don't bother me so much. I can ignore them. I always used to finish books, but now, with my lack of time, what will stop my reading faster than anything is being bored. I don't have time to be bored when the whole point of reading the book is to be entertained. ;-)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Marja - I think no matter how expert we become as writers we'll always need that second set of eyes to go over our work. :)

Hi Hilary - Yes, sometimes I'll "sweat" through a book if the story is engaging.

Hi Jess - I've come across a few boring books in my time. With time being an issue for me as well, I'm chucking books I would have slogged through in the past.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Sarah Forgrave said...

When I'm in editing mode on my own work, it's extra hard to shut off that editor when I read someone else's book. Like you said, I always know it's a great book when I forget my internal editor even exists. :)

Hope you have a great week, Susan!

Katie Ganshert said...

Great question, Susan. It takes a really good book to draw me in, but it happens. And when it does - when I stop judging or critiquing the writing/storytelling and find myself swept into the story - then I know the book is a wonderful one.

Kara said...

I do notice typos and such, but I'm pretty forgiving because I seem to do it all the time on my blog and facebook posts:) If the book is poorly written though, then I usually can't make myself finish it.

Ryan and Melanie said...

If the story is phenomenal, I can ignore the mistakes.

Have a great week, Susan!

Mel

Karen Lange said...

As a writer, I do note more things, but I can usually work around the typos and such if the writing is good. If it is not, I often quit and move on (unless I must read the book for some reason).

Blessings,
Karen

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Sarah - Right now, the internal editor is asleep because I'm reading Jody's excellent book. :)

Hi Katie - Those are the books that have the Wow! factor for me.

Hi Kara - When the writing is so bad that it pulls me out of the story, I'm finished.

Hi Melanie - I think most of us have a level of tolerance for mistakes. I don't like examining a book with a microscope. It takes something drastic to send me over the edge.

Hi Karen - Good point. I stopped reviewing for publishers because I didn't want to HAVE to read and review a book I didn't like.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Sonia said...

I tend to mentally correct as I read, but it doesn't stop me from reading a good story. The only time I stop reading a story is if it bores me to tears and I usually can tell if a book is going to do that within the first couple of chapters, by the writing style. :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Sonia -

Boredom is a major factor for me as well.

If I'm reluctant to pick up a book after reading the first couple of chapters, it's a bad sign. If I don't care what happens to the characters, it's another bad sign.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Nancy said...

Even though I'm less than perfect, I still "edit" most books I read. I don't mean to, it just happens. I notice things.

I don't quit books because of mistakes. I quit only when one of my "I won't read that type of scene," happens. I hate it when I'm deep in a good book and I have to quit for conscience' sake. But I do.

kristen said...

I think knowing more about writing has kind of lessened the enjoyment some of my reading experiences. But those times can also be very valuable, as they teach me what I don't want to do with my own writing.

(There have been a few times when books or movies have been completely ruined and I couldn't get past them, but those are rare.)

Have a wonderful day:)
Kristen

Rhonda Schrock said...

When it's not well written. Stilted writing, over explaining, etc. And I can't help editing. I can't! If it's riddled with typos, it makes me nuts. I feel like you do...when someone does it right and does it WELL, you know it!

Linda O'Connell said...

I read others with an editor's eye, but unless it is glaring, I usually overlook it. However, I read a book yesterday that kept switching point of view and wondered how it ever got to a traditional publisher.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Nancy - Ah, that's why I stopped watching most movies.

Hi Kristen - Learning what not to do is sometimes as helpful as learning what to do!

Hi Rhonda - Oh, you've given me an idea for a post. Thank you!

Hi Linda - Not long ago, I read a book and wondered the same thing. It made me shy away from that publisher.

Blessings,
Susan :)