Does Writing Fiction Ruin the Experience of Reading It?

I am a fiction writer and voracious fiction reader, so I like this topic. Yet I feel like I shouldn’t write it since it would be in first person, so it’s up for grabs.

Do any fiction writers out there find their craft ruins the reading experience? For example, do you catch yourself zeroing in on when an author tells instead of shows, or when characters are undeveloped? Do books you once liked become tedious? If yes, how do you–and we as writers–cope with that? Is there a way to keep one’s craft from ruining reading? Conversely, does writing make reading a great book even better, and does it enhance one’s taste in literature?

  • I love the topic! I also write myself and I do often have this issue of honing in one possible mistakes or weaknesses in stories (writing- or even story-wise) that my friends miss. But I also think it's given me a higher appreciation for works I do love and that are written very well. Of course, this would be a subjective topic for anyone to write, but I do think you're onto something. – Karen 6 years ago
  • I love this topic. I think some solutions should be addressed to help writers read without criticizing. – DB752B 6 years ago
  • This is a great questions. Fiction has long been a part of literature and who knows if it has its own downsides. – BMartin43 6 years ago
  • I like this topic, and I think it could be written with an open-ended conclusion. I.e. writing might "ruin" reading in some ways, but it vastly improves it in others. I do find that as a writer, I notice weak plot devices or predictable character development far more than I used to or than other readers. As Karen noted, however, I also appreciate some things more, like artfully dropped foreshadowing, beautiful symbolism, or unique scenes. For me, these positive results outweigh the negative, but this could be argued either way. I also think it can relate to tv (I can't stand some shows just because the script is poorly written, while my friends are able to excuse that for high quality acting and cinematography) but it's up to the writers discretion to note this or not. – EmmaBeitzel 6 years ago
  • I definitely agree writing fiction gives you a better eye for good books, although what is "good" remains subjective. I've also noticed it gives me a better idea of what I want my writing voice to sound like, so whoever writes the topic could discuss that if they wanted. – Stephanie M. 6 years ago
  • I love writing fiction too, and I like see it all as a learning experience. I ask myself if these lacking characteristics of the book tie-in to the narrative, and whether or not my dislike of it is just a personal opinion. Then when I write my own works, I am sometimes inspired by these elements and then I deviate or incorporate them in a way that reflects me as a writer. – RadosianStar 6 years ago
  • I think reading fiction will always be food for the imagination. If you are a writer reading the work of others allows you to discover your style. If you are reading a work of fiction and discover something the author could be doing differently you will make a mental note to avoid doing it. Conversely, if you find something you love you can further explore that pocket in your own writing and others. Even what you consider to be bad fiction can be educational. – ReidaBookman 6 years ago
  • I would say that in order to write good fiction, at least in my experience, it's necessary to be constantly immersing myself in other people's work. While I definitely don't think that writing "ruins" reading, it definitely gives me a sharper eye when it comes to how a book is put together and how the language is being used. I start to think about things other than enjoying the story, such as how the author may have crafted it, what works and what doesn't work, and generally analyzing much deeper than many people might want to when reading something. It's the same thing with any art: I used to be really into drawing and I found myself always being extremely critical of other artists mistakes because I became much more able to recognize them. The same sort of thing happens for me with fiction, or writing of any kind, and I often get annoyed by what I consider poor writing, even in authors that I have massive respect for. On the other hand, I now have a grasp of what it means to write a story, and can better appreciate good fiction, especially when I come across something where I have absolutely no idea how the author did it. For some people this analytical mindset might detract from the enjoyment of a book, but I've always found that it does the opposite for me. – woollyb 5 years ago
  • There is definitely an analytical side that kicks in. Instead if just following the story, you do notice the nitty gritty devices being used. I think it also deepens appreciation for the artform. When you realise how difficult it is, you become a little less critical and more understanding about the author's intent, and you don't fixate on the elements that bother you, but try to assess the story; both what works and what doesn't (at least that's how I feel). – AGMacdonald 5 years ago

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