Hungry Writers and Smart Readers

My blog, Connecting through Story, is for writers and readers both. I can't separate the two. Growing up, I was the kind of kid who wrote in the attic and read in a hollowed-out hedge. The characters in books were as alive to me as my own they'd have adventures together in my head. When I first saw the film of a favorite story, Peter Pan, I loved it, but was startled that what I saw on the screen didn’t match up with my vision. My Peter had more of an edge (and was rather hot). Writing and reading are a collaborative act. The writer takes the lead, but together we do more than apart. The minds of writers and readers connect through the act of reading to forge something new and unique.

Writers can anticipate this by reading our work as a smart reader would. To allow our minds to visualize, our guts to react and our brains to question, even as we revise stories that we’ve worked on for months. If your stomach tightens, then that’s a good bet that the tension is working. If it doesn't, then you need to consider what would increase the stakes. Continue to read other people’s work, both to learn more about writing and to train yourself in how to be a better reader of your own. Writers should hunger – to create characters that yearn to breathe, to tell stories that need telling, to reach readers that would care. To become a stronger writer with each sentence you lay down.

I see us all as hungry writers and smart readers, deserving of inspiration, celebration and support. I want my blog to be a place you can go to learn and be valued. A place for connecting through story, mind to mind, heart to heart.

Comments 9

 
Rosy Cole on Thursday, 04 June 2015 18:32

This is such an important issue, Ellen, and one that is often forgotten. Learning how to be an objective reader of one's own writing, without that negative critic on the shoulder, listening for rhythms, crisping the images, is a lifetime's work!

The adventure between writer and reader is a'ways a collaborative affair and creating atmosphere and tweaking the reader's imagination, but allowing space, all form a good portion of a writer's work. I even think it bears a modest comparison with the function of translators.

Thanks for your thoughts. Looking forward to you keeping us on our toes! :-)

This is such an important issue, Ellen, and one that is often forgotten. Learning how to be an objective reader of one's own writing, without that negative critic on the shoulder, listening for rhythms, crisping the images, is a lifetime's work! The adventure between writer and reader is a'ways a collaborative affair and creating atmosphere and tweaking the reader's imagination, but allowing [i]space[/i], all form a good portion of a writer's work. I even think it bears a modest comparison with the function of translators. Thanks for your thoughts. Looking forward to you keeping us on our toes! :-)
Ellen T. McKnight on Thursday, 04 June 2015 18:48

Thank you, Rosy. You put it so well. That balancing of guidance and space is truly an art. There's an aspect of trust in the relationship between writers and readers that sometimes gets lost, especially in today's challenging marketplace.

I look forward to more conversations going forward.

Thank you, Rosy. You put it so well. That balancing of guidance and space is truly an art. There's an aspect of trust in the relationship between writers and readers that sometimes gets lost, especially in today's challenging marketplace. I look forward to more conversations going forward.
Jitu C Rajgor on Thursday, 04 June 2015 19:37

I liked reading your post. It has insights for writes and readers as well. Thanks for connecting me.

I liked reading your post. It has insights for writes and readers as well. Thanks for connecting me.
Ellen T. McKnight on Thursday, 04 June 2015 19:55

I'm glad you enjoyed it. The Green Room is a great place for making connections.

I'm glad you enjoyed it. The Green Room is a great place for making connections.
Former Member on Sunday, 07 June 2015 16:40

Interesting thoughts here. I feel sometimes that I have to be careful about falling back on my experience. I've been doing this for so many years and my early studying and training, I feel, are always in front of me. Such things as Rosy mentioned -- rhythm, timing, avoiding repetition -- are things I sense as I go along. However! If self-assurance leads to smugness the work can easily fall flat and suffer from the very things I try to avoid, especially repetition! One of the worst offenses in my experience is assaulting the reader with monotony.

Interesting thoughts here. I feel sometimes that I have to be careful about falling back on my experience. I've been doing this for so many years and my early studying and training, I feel, are always in front of me. Such things as Rosy mentioned -- rhythm, timing, avoiding repetition -- are things I sense as I go along. However! If self-assurance leads to smugness the work can easily fall flat and suffer from the very things I try to avoid, especially repetition! One of the worst offenses in my experience is assaulting the reader with monotony.
Ellen T. McKnight on Sunday, 07 June 2015 17:05

I've always been struck by how writers need to work on more than one level simultaneously: to generate ideas, build scenes and craft language, at the same time as reading, reacting and assessing the result. Self-assurance is an important part of authorial authority in the creation of work, but in reading our own writing, I believe we should seek to be as open and ruthlessly honest as possible. A lifelong challenge for us all!

I've always been struck by how writers need to work on more than one level simultaneously: to generate ideas, build scenes and craft language, at the same time as reading, reacting and assessing the result. Self-assurance is an important part of authorial authority in the creation of work, but in reading our own writing, I believe we should seek to be as open and ruthlessly honest as possible. A lifelong challenge for us all!
Rosy Cole on Monday, 08 June 2015 15:17

I think what it boils down to, Ellen, is cultivating the ability to confront the reader with a blank page on which we must paint a clear and deft picture, an objective picture with words, not transcribe everything that is in our imaginations.

I think what it boils down to, Ellen, is cultivating the ability to confront the reader with a blank page on which we must paint a clear and deft picture, an objective picture with words, not transcribe everything that is in our imaginations.
Ellen T. McKnight on Monday, 08 June 2015 16:01

I agree! But always to include the telling details. Just the right mix of guidance and freedom to imagine.

I agree! But always to include the telling details. Just the right mix of guidance and freedom to imagine.
Former Member on Monday, 08 June 2015 17:54

I agree about the details but then we have to deal with the exasperation of those who don't even notice those details: "How'd ya like it?" "Oh, I liked it." "What'd ya l like?" "Oh, the story, the whole thing." I remember smiling when Nick Caraway suddenly remembered his towels. He had invited Daisy and Gatsby to lunch and paid assiduous attention to every detail. Then, suddenly, he remembered his towels.

I agree about the details but then we have to deal with the exasperation of those who don't even notice those details: "How'd ya like it?" "Oh, I liked it." "What'd ya l like?" "Oh, the story, the whole thing." I remember smiling when Nick Caraway suddenly remembered his towels. He had invited Daisy and Gatsby to lunch and paid assiduous attention to every detail. Then, suddenly, he remembered his towels.
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