I find I’m much better at pointing out what I don’t like about works than what I do. It’s why I never liked to do workshops. I like the feedback but when it comes to giving others feedback, all I can think of is the story is really good. As a writer, it’s nice to hear your story is good but when you’re seeking another writers’ opinion, you want more than good. You want what works, what doesn’t, what needs to be expanded, what should be taken away and, above all, does the story work; do they buy it. But when the story is brilliant I leave dazed, stunned and inspired but never full of exactly what I loved about it.
This is opposite to stories I don’t like. Take the Twilight series. I could go on and on about what I don’t like about the series. I could sound like an expert, use all the right words and phrases, you know, sound like I know what I’m talking about (which I do). I was thinking of dedicating a post to how disappointed I was in it, like there aren’t a million of those already.
With exquisite stories like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Twilight Watch, the Black Jewel Series, The Legend of Drizzt series and Harry Potter series, I resist taking them apart. I’ve tried explicating H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allen Poe’s stories; making notes in the margins, looking up and writing down words I don’t know, indicating plot points and making note of lines, scenes and descriptions I like but it was all so mechanic and didn’t allow me to see the big picture. I didn’t enjoy the story.
In my mind, I guess, brilliantly told stories are magic and delving into why they are brilliant takes away from the magic. I do understand how diving into a story I like will help in my own writing. I understand writers need to read for more than the sheer joy of it.
But when I read, I get a feel for the story, I love language, and take away any pointers about world building. I still jot down lines I like because Edgar Allen Poe, H.P. Lovecraft and Robert Louis Stevenson are great at using words I know in ways I never thought of. But for me, asking why takes away from the magic. Even in my own stories, I like to leave questions unanswered. It may seem strange but I never said I was normal. Normal’s no fun.