On Writing and Reading

Hello again.

Well I’ve been reading. Of course you say, especially if you’ve followed me on Goodreads. However I have been catching myself more and more critiquing my fellow writers. Their choices for words, their plot points, and their character motivations. But even more, I’m trying to dissect my own enjoyment. Why do I like a certain story, and why do I have trouble putting down a book?

In the case of the last two books I’ve read it’s a matter of what I see in the world. The rules that they’ve set up, and what a person might do with those rules. Even better is when a character experiments as well. That way we don’t have to wonder, we are shown. And I just can’t wait for the next new discovery. Another thing is mystery. A puzzle if you will. Here are these set pieces, and we aren’t told what they mean in the beginning. We are curious, and want to learn what is really going on, but only so much information is doled out, one piece at a time. Then we get to ask ourselves, what does it all mean?

If you can engage those two things, apparently even if the writing isn’t a masterpiece, it still is good. Good enough that I’ll spend too many hours reading instead of sleeping. Good enough that I don’t feel an hour pass, and when I look up the clock is telling me that I should have been asleep long ago.

Another trick for the sleepless reader, is something I utilized with my first three books. It wasn’t intentional, at least insomuch for it to cause sleeplessness. It was just a way I wanted to write those books. No chapters, no pauses, just a flow of consciousness. My first books have no natural pausing point, so it makes it difficult to find a place to stop. Some of the feedback I got on those was that people just read through the night, trying to get to a stopping point, but since they couldn’t find one, just finished those books in one sitting. Luckily they weren’t huge. If I were to have gone on as long as Robert Jordon I think some may have gone mad. I’ve moved on from that. Now I’m using chapter breaks after a scene is finished.

Chapters can also help the writer. It gives you a framework, one where you can drape your story. In breaking it up, it makes you think harder about a scene. You can then use it to build it up between one chapter and the next. Asking yourself what is important for the story to do here. How does it go from this to that? Currently this is quite helpful as I write with another person. Especially since we are in the editing phase. Since we both are familiar with what we’ve written, we can then try to sort out any inconsistencies. By knowing where the chapter is, we know where it isn’t. By knowing where it isn’t, we inherently know where it should be.

In the end I’m still very happy to be a reader, but I’m also excited to learn because of it. Every book I pick up gives me further clues into writing. Some of them good hints, others obvious no no’s when I start hating something. Luckily recently there’s been little to hate, as I’ve been picky with what I’ve read. But even if it’s a bad book, you’ll learn something. In fact you may learn more if you read something you hate. All those little things that irritate and annoy you will reinforce upon you not to do something so stupid. Then again, it’s all a matter of personal preference, as I’ve seen books I despise be praise way beyond their quality of writing. Maybe I’ll be lucky one day and receive such praise, but in the end the fun is in the writing, and in having it available for others to read.

With that, I’ll leave you this week. I hope you get more sleep than me, but if you have time pick up a book and enjoy.

What I’ve published

Walk On

Walk On Cover

click here for a link to the book

Outsider Trilogy


Click here for a link to the book



Link to my author page on Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Steven-Oaks/e/B00MEGSEZ6

Link to the Deathship book in the CreateSpace store – https://www.createspace.com/5023771

Or you can help me out on Patreon. Again, thank you. https://www.patreon.com/StevenOaks

Update: An estimated 83% into editing

Steven Oaks

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