When I was little, I both loved and hated English class. I loved reading and discussing stories, but I absolutely hated sharing my opinion. Why? Not because I was shy…which I was. It was the reaction I would get from my instructor. It didn’t matter what grade or what teacher, I would share my thoughts and they would say “Well that’s…interesting.” After becoming an instructor myself, I now have sympathy for my teachers. There are times when students say things that throw me off. Sitting in silence to gather my thoughts is almost worse. So they went with this phrase, every time.
I used to think it was because I was weird. Again, I probably am considering I find enjoyment writing novels in my spare time, but not the point. Now I have realized it is the difference between how a reader and a writer approaches a story. I have fun conversing with my friends more than I ever did in English class. I don’t have to sensor my thoughts and try to mimic what the teacher wanted. I can openly share my position. And, what’s even better, is I can start to see the difference.
I think of plot structure and characterization when reading. In fact, going through all of my reviews on Goodreads, I can see the stories I gave less stars to always revolve around fallacies in the set up or unrealistic plot lines. As I read, I cannot help trying to predict where the author is going. I’ve gotten pretty good, but love the stories that still are able to surprise me without cheating by withholding all the information. My mother, on the other hand, gets wrapped up in the emotion. She is along for the ride.
This week, I finally got to encounter my “reader” side. I have been looking forward to Allegiant by Veronica Roth for some time now. I was so happy when it released this week. The first shock to my system is she changed points of view. I felt put off by it. As a writer, I could see the necessity of incorporating another viewpoint, but as a reader I wanted to exist only in the same head that brought me to this point. Then, I started to criticize her with my “writer” side, focusing on the technique of sticking to points of view. That is…until I realized that I am guilty of this. I switched points of view between The Curse of Atlantis and its sequel (hopefully out next year). I started writing the story without switching, but it became necessary to the plot to make the change.
This is what reviewing books is all about, I think. The writer always has reasons, and most have to do with the structure of a plot. The reader always reacts with emotion to the ride itself, not looking at the nuts and bolts. The joy is when these two approaches synchronize.
Changing points of view is a weird subject for me because as a reader it doesn’t bother me. Unless I get confused or it happens infrequently enough to feel like a mistake, I tend to like it.
As I writer, I like the idea of expressing images and scenes rather than sticking strictly to perceptions. But it’s also something that people have bristled at. With today’s reading standards, people enter in with the belief that the narrator is the protagonist, even in third person. So when it isn’t, they get confused. I believe if the assumption wasn’t there, there would be no problem.
But I agree with you that, as a reader, I personally prefer following one character. I could never get into Game of Thrones because of the constant switching of stories. Not a bad technique, but not appealing to me.
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