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Skimming (and I don’t mean stones)

Okay. Tell the truth time – even though it’s not Tuesday.

I love, love, love a good book. As with most writers – I always have. But learning to write has turned me into a super picky reader. Sometimes, I skim (gulp). I have several different reactions when I read.

This is the most terrific story and I’m going to run out and tell everyone about it.

 These stories I read word for word. I get caught up in the humor, suspense, the characters. At this level, I would read about the character doing the most mundane things like drinking milk or making a pb and j sandwich. I relish every minute reading it and am disappointed when the experience ends.

This is a good book and I’ll give it a favorable review but I’m not gushing or anything.

I’ll read this book and have a healthy respect for the writing and the author. I’ll give it favorable reviews. Most likely, I’ll read this word for word.

The story could have been a lot better.

I hate to say it. I never used to skim. But I don’t have time to waste on a book that is only half interesting. If there is a series of scenes of only character development and not plot, I’ll skim. And if it continues, I’ll skip huge chunks of the middle. The sad thing is, I’ll read the ending and realize I didn’t miss a thing. I still completely understood the ending.

Danger zone of losing me as a reader.

These are the books that after the first page or chapter, I stop reading. They might be good books, worthy of being published, they just didn’t draw me into the story – at all. And I’m sure this is extremely subjective.

Of course, there are levels in between. I didn’t start skimming until I became a writer. It makes me realize how important pacing, structure, micro tension are to a story.

Why does this phenomenon occur?

It’s because I read to learn. I do read for pleasure too, but I want to learn at the same time. And because I want to get the most out of my time, I won’t waste it. I think if I stopped writing and went back to just reading for pleasure, I’d stop skimming as much.

What do you think? Why and when do you skim?

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