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Writers as Readers

This post is a "reprint" of a post I made on my old author blog (since abandoned). I'll probably be slowly moving any older posts I see as having value/interest over to this platform over the next few weeks/months, so if you have been following me long enough to know about as well as this site, I'm sorry for any repeats.

For better or worse, when a person takes that step to become a writer, even if they've been an avid reader for years, it can change the way they look at books. No longer is the creation process a big mystery. We know how it works. We know how it "should" be done ... and that might make a book we once enjoyed suddenly seem full of holes and missteps.

So here are some common "types" (and many people will be a mix of more than one) that I've run into in writer groups.

The Editor--

This author knows all the rules and seeing them broken physically pains them. They need a clean copy to read. Not all Editors follow the same “rules” so one's idea of “clean copy” might differ from another, but the results are the same and they are looking for books that are professional enough and follow the proper beats and don't make them start rewriting/editing in their head. Sometimes this is a phase reader/writers go through and they'll eventually learn to turn off their inner editor to get back to reading. Other times not so much, and they'll just learn to be very particular about the books they choose to read.

The Pollyanna--

This writer knows how hard it is to write a book and how much bad reviews hurt and they never want to inflict that on anyone and believe a story has value just for being someone's “book baby” and they'll desperately seek the good in a book out no matter how many other flaws they see. This person is good to have as a friend as a writer, but not so great for a reader if you're looking for recommendations because they really, truly do like EVERYTHING.

The Thrillseeker--

Similarly to the Editor, this writer has read a lot and written a lot, but unlike the Editor who has turned this into an unending quest for pristine prose and perfect plotting, the Thrillseeker is DESPERATE to be surprised again. They want something new. They want something different. They want to see the rules cleverly broken. They want to see the tropes subverted. They want a breath of fresh air that makes them remember when stories were “new.” They tend to be picky readers, but it's weird what books will work for them. Sometimes they will be heavily flawed books that dared to do something different. The Thrillseeker is generally a varied reader but DNFs a lot because they didn't satisfy the itch.

The Soother--

This writer has managed to keep reading in its special place as their “relaxation.” They figured out what they like specifically in books and have learned how to find those books and just read those sorts of books over and over again. Frequently this writer also writes in a genre with strict expectations and understood tropes and they like those tropes and want to read and write books that hit the sweet spots. They're the writer who has a routine and reading is part of that routine and they seek out books that “fit” their tastes. They tend to be voracious and easily pleased IF you don't pull a fast one on them and break with the formula. They aren't reading to be surprised but to be comforted (and sometimes they might be comforted by things other readers would be uncomfortable with. It's more about expectations than “safe” fiction.).

There are probably more, but those are the four I observe the most frequently. I'm mostly a Thrillseeker, but I can be a bit of an Editor if a book has a LOT of basic problems. 

What about you? Do you identify with any of these types?

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