I had a nice chat yesterday regarding a story I shared with someone. The feedback that I received was both welcome and informative. I appreciated the time dedicated to reading my story and the comments made by my friend. It took me about an hour to realize though, that the input was not trivial…
I am kind of used to feedback like “Nice” or “good story” or “It was… Meh”. All of these are valid, as they give me a general idea whether I am reaching a certain person. But this one was different.
Not only did it not consist of one word, or one short sentence/statement, it referred to writing in a way that many people who do not write themselves do not. I was told that the story is told without the use of “filler”. I have to admit that there couldn’t be a bigger compliment I could expect, as this seems to be an area where I am working very hard. How much is enough? How much is too much? Is this word/sentence justified? does it contribute to the story? I was very happy to receive this comment, and encouraged by the thought that there are people around me who can give me actual constructive criticism.
This brings me to the topic of today’s post (Was all of the above “filler”? :))
After reading about writing, and especially once I started implementing my improved skills to my work, I noticed that one more thing changed. It is the reading experience. Now I did not change my taste in genres, nor have I changed my mind about the writers I like. But I do notice a change in the way that I read books these days.
I tend to pay a lot more attention to the writing skills and the way they show in the books I read. Every once in a while all of these “Dos” and “Don’ts” raise their ugly heads above the pages and I have to smile.
I realize that they (and more so the “Don’ts”) are not black and white. They are important directional sign posts that should send a writer in the right path to better writing. When I see one of those assumed mistakes, I stop and re-read. I can say that on 9 out of 10 times they could not be avoided. They could not be avoided either without creating another “Don’t” or without hindering the story telling.
Going back to the beginning of this post, I also notice the tightness of a good story. I begin to understand WHY I liked the book. I can now read a book and say more than “nice” or “It was…. Meh”…
My reading experience was enhanced. I can enjoy a good book as a better informed reader (compared to my previous self) and I can utilize the great skills of writers I really look up to, in order to learn more.