Thursday, March 25, 2010

Does Critiquing Ever Stop?

I will admit that I have always been a judgmental reader. What I mean by that is, I have always been irked when I find errors in a story. I think this stems from two reasons: one, I am a teacher (enough said?), but I believe the greater reason is because it jerks me out of the story. When I am reading good fiction, I often totally lose myself in the characters' thoughts, the descriptive settings, the action. So when I'm reading along and then see a misspelled word, or grammatical error, it breaks that spell for me.

One of the perils of writing that has been brought to my attention since I began working on my own stories is frequent points of view shifts. This is when the story in being told from one character's point of view—we, the readers are in his head—when suddenly within the same scene the author begins telling what another character is thinking. If this happens frequently, I have had an editor liken it to making the reader feel like a ping pong ball being batted about between two (or more) characters' thoughts.

I said all that to say this...

This week I took a "break" from reading books primarily for review writing purposes, and read a book by a very prolific fiction writer whose books I have enjoyed in the past. I have read many of her books and always enjoyed the intrigue she creates in her plots, the interesting characters, the romance.

As I read this book, however, I kept feeling kicked out of the story because every time there was an unexpected POV change (and this occurred frequently), I was given pause. I found myself wondering if her other books did the same thing, but because I hadn't been aware of this faux pas before, it had never bothered me. I also checked the publishing date and realized this book was an earlier work...maybe she learned to eliminate that habit in later novels...(I'll definitely have to check into that to satisfy my curiosity now).

I still thought the story line was great, and on the whole enjoyed the book. But I can't help wondering if that old saying, "Ignorance is bliss" is certainly applicable in my case now. Will I ever be able to totally become lost in a good story again? Or will that "judgment bug" rear its ugly head at even more inopportune moments?


  1. I'm with you on this one. I can't stand to find misspellings and obvious grammatical errors in anything. If I can catch it, certainly most other people can! I understand your dilemma. It has to be hard to read for enjoyment now.

  2. Well from one Harris to another, I am looking forward to reading your new book, hugs and do not think we are related, my clan is from England, Canada and MI never know though.
    Hugs Barbara