Seeing Things Differently

The more I read about writing the more I see reading differently. As an avid consumer of books, both tree and e-, it used to be enough that the tale was a good story well told, that the pages turned almost by themselves and that I lived in a new world for the duration.

Back then, all I knew about categorising whether or not a book was good was that I didn’t want to put it down, regardless. That after the last page I missed my new friends and re-entering the real world felt strange.

A book was good and thus was finished, or it wasn’t and was speedily relegated to being sent off to Oxfam Books, unfinished.

Life’s too short to finish books that do not engage.

These days I increasingly read a book – or watch a good film for that matter – and the structural aspects jump out. The introduction/scene-setting has ended, spotted it. The fun and games begins, this bit we get to learn all the weaving threads.

It hasn’t stopped pure reading enjoyment, but it has enabled a better judgement of how a book is going to pan out – and whether or not I’m going to like it. It also enables greater appreciation of the simpler the writing, the harder the job and more evident is the thought, time and skill that has gone into writing the book in the first place.

What I remember of my English lessons at school, the imagination, the grammar and the tale-telling was easy. The assessment of writing, of literature, escaped me. I didn’t understand how to deconstruct writing, how to critique character or plot., and yet it was expected of me in order to achieve a grade.

It has taken creative writing courses and fostering an interest as an adult to develop a level of understanding that was required of me at school. There’s still a long way to go on my understanding, by no means have I any expertise, however the more I learn the more I wonder: Why on earth do they not teach this at school?

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2 responses to “Seeing Things Differently

  1. Yes – in my day creative writing finished at ‘A’ level (as though it was time to get onto the more serious stuff then). There’s a lot of criticism about the way English is taught in schools (I’ll post a link when I can find one/when I’ve time) and last year one of my Museum Studies students told me that studying Shakespeare had spoiled it for him – a real shame.

    • Thanks for your comment, Rebecca. In my youth, Shakespeare was taught with a heavy hand, enabling little understanding of nuance, and even less enjoyment of the rich feast his language choice offered. It took cinema (not Olivier…) and The Globe to get me hooked as an adult. It’s never too late.

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