When I completed the first book in the Zaria Fierce Trilogy I noticed something odd. I was reading differently. I know it’s a bold statement to say writing a book changes how you read books. But is the concept really all that farfetched, or is it all too obvious? I’ll let you decide.
Before writing Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest, paying attention to how I read was not anything I thought to analyze. I simply read and enjoyed. Even while writing Zaria’s first adventures to Norway, it wasn’t something on my radar, but I noticed while editing and readying the book for publication that my reading habits had changed. I wasn’t just a reader anymore, simply reading to enjoy a book, I was an author, too. I was reading books and dissecting what other authors did.
Now, that I’ve published my first trilogy set out into the world, I notice the changes in how I read even more. Witty turns of phrases catch my attention like landmarks on a road trip. I always loved a clever phrase as a reader, but as an author I am admiring the craft and skill involved, how easily it slid into place and flowed with the rest of the text.
I marvel at how sentences are engineered. For instance from a newspaper article came, “his words popped sporadically like popcorn.” What a clear visual and sound impression. I can hear it and see it – a little man jumping around to emphasize thoughts as they came to him.
Another thing I do is question word choices describing actions. Can someone’s gaze climb over someone’s appearance? Certainly the movement is clear, but eyes don’t have limbs to climb with, so does it work? And if for instance would the word traveled be better? Can a gaze travel over someone’s appearance? If it is better, why is it better? The gaze still doesn’t have limbs… but it can move, by changing where it’s looking.
I especially appreciate correct words in a story instead of their mistaken counterparts like compliment vs complement and homed in on vs honed in on. (Not that I didn’t appreciate them before, but now I feel more sympathetic toward malapropisms in text. I hated finding those in my own writing. They creep up far too often, and an author can’t claim distractions or interruptions for all of them! Though we will try.)
I read a lot of grammar blogs. More and more as the time passes. I want to stay sharp, learn new tricks, catch errors that might be missed, and hopefully polish my writing with their nuggets of wisdom. So yes, I still enjoy the story, and I might think about all the same things other readers or authors might when reading. But, I’m now analyzing how the words got on the page and learning wisdom on how to write at each author’s feet.