Before you throw your virtual tomatoes, read on a little further.
A couple of years ago I completed the first novel I thought was worthy of publication. I still think it's a great book, but as a writer, as a reader, I was blissfully ignorant. I knew a good story when I read it, but I didn't look for character arcs, I skimmed over plot holes and if the pace dragged a bit, I attributed it to being a more "literary" type of book.
Not anymore. These days when I open a book, I have a hard time pulling myself out of critique mode. And it's spilling over into other parts of my life. As I watched The Fairly Odd Parents with my kids on Saturday morning, I found myself following an internal checklist.
- Okay, there's what Timmy Turner wants for this episode. Check.
- There's the first obstacle to getting what he wants. Check.
- Oh, now they've given him an inner conflict. Check.
- Mommy's finally gone over the deep end. Check.
I'm not trying to be critical. I want to enjoy what I'm reading or watching. But the bar has been raised. It takes more to impress me. And maybe that's why it's harder to catch the attention of agents and editors now than it was even five years ago. Because they're looking at a LOT more stories than I am and it takes way more to impress them.
I'm not sure how to stop analyzing everything I read (or watch!), but I do know that when a novel pulls me in to the point that my editorial pen disappears, it's a really good story. It's a story I can get lost in, a book I want to tell my friends to read because it's THAT good. It's the kind of story we all dream of writing.
Here's hoping we can all get a little lost.
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