11 Reasons Rereading is the Best

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Last week I wrote a blog post: 12 Reasons Spoilers Are the Worst. I think spoilers can ruin an experience because you can only read something for the first time once.

Saying spoilers are the worst but rereading is the best might seem contradictory, but it’s not. Reading something for the first time and reading something for the second time (or the fiftieth time) are completely different experiences.

Here’s why I say rereading is the best:

  1. Because I already know what’s going to happen, I can read at a more leisurely pace, luxuriating in the story. The first time through, I often race to get to the end as quickly as possible.
  2. It’s fun spotting details that foreshadowed what was going to happen. When I catch them on the first read-through, it makes me feel smart. But because I read pretty quickly, I do often miss details that I catch the second time through.
  3. It’s like visiting an old friend. Because I know my friends so well, we often repeat stories, but it’s still fun to hear them (or tell them) again and again. Because even though we lived it and we know how it ends, reliving the journey brings it all back. Rereading a beloved book is like that.
  4. When life is stressful, I don’t want any surprises. There are many times I have high hopes for a book and it turns out to be a disappointment. When I’m stressed out, I don’t want that. I want to turn to something I know won’t let me down.
  5. I can appreciate the author’s skill. This didn’t used to be a reason for me to reread, but the more I write, the more I can see when an author executes a book skillfully, and then also less than skillfully. It’s delightful to study a beloved book for how the author made it awesome. (Though frankly, the answer to this is often “magic.”)
  6. If a sequel I’m excited about is coming out, rereading refreshes all those details. I got on board with Harry Potter after The Goblet of Fire. From then on, when a new book was coming out, it was so much fun to read each of the books that came before so that I was fresh from reading them for the sequels. It got me even more excited for the sequels. I’ve done this with other books too, like This Savage Song/ Our Dark Duet.
  7. To study a specific aspect of writing. There are times when I’ll be like, “I really need help putting more emotion on the page… who does that well?” And then I’ll seek out a book that moved me to study how it was done. (Again, usually, it’s magic.)
  8. Reading in tandem is fun. If a friend is reading a book I love, I’ll often reread that book so that when we discuss it (and we will discuss it), it’s fresh in my mind. There’s nothing I love more than sharing the worlds I enjoy.
  9. I want to refresh some kind of lesson/ learning. I reread Pollyanna almost every year. I try to live by the central idea of that book, that there’s always a reason to be glad. I also reread some of my favorite writing books. Recently, I reread Big Magic because I felt like I needed a reminder that creativity wants to come out and play with me, even if it doesn’t always feel like it.
  10. Sometimes I can’t afford the distraction that a new book would be. When I enjoy a book, I literally can’t put it down. Adulting gets put on hold. I read and read until I finish. There are times when I want to read for 15 minutes or a half hour, and I can’t afford to go past that. That’s when it works to pick up a book I’ve read so that it’s not so hard to get on with adulting.
  11. It’s relaxing. There’s not the same anticipation that there was with reading a book for the first time, so I can just enjoy it.

All that being said, there are some books that if I could magically forget what happened so I could go back and experience it again for the first time, I absolutely would! Since that isn’t possible (yet), rereading it is as close as I’m going to get.

What book(s) do you love to reread?

12 Reasons Why Spoilers Are the Worst

Some people don’t care about spoilers, but those people are wrong. Spoilers are the worst! (For the record, I’m mostly going to mention books, but this applies to movies and TV shows too.)

Spoilers Are the Worst

  1. I can only read something for the first time once. That feeling of discovery, that I can’t consume pages (or watch it) fast enough is a magical feeling, like falling in love.
  2. Trying to figure it out is half the fun. I love reading a mystery or thriller and looking at clues to try to figure out whodunnit or what’s going to happen in the end. I’m more engaged in the reading experience than I would be if I already knew what happened.
  3. I want to experience it as it happens. If I didn’t care about the experience of reading, I’d just go to Wikipedia and read the summary. (I’ve actually done this occasionally on sequels where I was curious enough to want to know what happened, but not so curious that I wanted to invest time in the next book.) For me, it’s like the difference between enjoying a gourmet meal and being fed glucose intravenously.
  4. Writing an enjoyable story is hard, and spoiling it for someone else makes it so they can’t experience it as the author intended. Writing anything: a book, a movie, a TV show, is an art. Most published authors wrote the story deliberately, in a certain order. Spoiling that is disrespectful. If the author wanted to write just a summary, they’d write a summary.
  5. Spoiling a story ruins the secondhand discovery. I love discussing stories with people when I know what happens and they don’t. Or when they know what happens and I don’t. It’s so much fun to watch someone enjoy something that I love as it unfolds.
  6. We can all use more good surprises. I like opening Christmas (or birthday) gifts and having no idea what I was given ahead of time. I love when someone texts or calls me out of the blue (someone I like, anyway). And I love when a story brings me something I didn’t see coming, yet was inevitable.
  7. If I wanted to know what happened in a book, it’s not that hard. It would take me less than 30 seconds on the Internet. Therefore, when people don’t warn spoilers and they’re RIGHT THERE in my face, it makes me crazy. Spoiler alert is twelve letters. Just type it.
  8. Most of the spoiler alerts that snipe me seem to be for no good reason. I’m talking about online, now. When you post “OMG, Harry Potter appeared and saved Rick and Michonne!” you’re just posting a fact. (This is a made up fact, BTW. No spoilers here.) You’re not adding to the conversation. Couldn’t you just as easily post, “OMG, can you believe that ending of The Walking Boy Who Lived??” Spoilers that are buried in text or articles can usually be avoided.
  9. I’m always behind the times, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care. Buffy the Vampire Slayer aired in 1996, and I just started watching it in 2018. In general, I don’t watch TV alone because I’m an addict. Once I get hooked on a story, I can’t stop. A friend insisted I had to watch the show, and I’m now in season 3, loving every moment of it. I’ve actually had a certain plotline spoiled for me because people still love and talk about this show 22 years later. It’s changed how I watch the show, and I’m not happy about it.
  10. Anticipation increases enjoyment, and unpredictability increases anticipation, according to a 2015 study reported in Psychology Today. What does that mean? It means that most people enjoy looking forward to things, especially when they don’t know exactly what they’re looking forward to.
  11. They make it harder to suspend disbelief. We don’t know what’s going to happen in real life, but when we know what’s going to happen in a story, it makes it harder to get immersed. If I know that a particular storyline is coming up, rather than concentrating on what’s happening now, I’m wondering how the writer is going to get us there, whether I want to or not.
  12. It’s the journey, not the destination. Cliche, but it has a lot of truth in it. Why do sports fans watch a game instead of just tuning in afterward for the score? Why don’t booksellers include the ending of the book on the back cover? Why do movie trailers not tell the ending? Because we want to experience it “live,” as it’s happening in that moment for whoever is reading/ watching.

I know there are plenty of people out there who either like or don’t mind spoilers, and I say, to each his own. If you want to know the ending, I’ll tell you. But PLEASE be respectful of my wishes and don’t tell me.

But Doree, don’t you love re-reading and re-watching things? Doesn’t that contradict everything you just said?

Indeed, I do. But no, it doesn’t. Stay tuned. Next week, I’ll explain why not.

My 10 Favorite Posts of 2018

It’s always interesting to see which of my posts were the most popular over a given year. Of my 10 most popular posts, only two were actually published in 2018.

For whatever reason, my most popular posts are often from previous years. Here are 10 posts that I think should have gotten more love last year.

10 Reasons I Love Happy Endings: Some people think happy endings signal a book that isn’t as important or good. I disagree.

The 10 Worst Couples in Fiction: There are just some couples who irritate me or who are just terrible for one another. These are the worst.

How Querying is Like Online Dating: It really, really is.

Do Happy Endings Exist? Maybe?

#sorrynotsorry 5 Books I Love That Others (Claim To) Hate: I don’t think anyone should apologize for their choices in entertainment.

Ten Things I’ve Learned From My Writing Critique Group: Honestly, I don’t know what I’d do without them. I’ve learned way more than just ten things.

Please Stop- Tropes I Hate: Enough is enough. (These mostly apply to YA)

Shut Up And Take My Money! Tropes I Love: I’ll never stop loving these. (Again, mostly YA)

7 Reasons I’m (Mostly) Over Sequels: With few exceptions, sequels tend to be meh.

10 Ways To Waste Time Instead of Writing: Why do writers dream of writing, but when they sit at their computers, waste time? (No, seriously… why?)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My 10 Most Popular Posts of 2018

It’s always fun for me to see my most popular posts. There were a few posts on this list that surprised me, and a few I’m just happy to see other people seemed to like as much as I did. The content varies so much that I still have no idea what I should write more of and less of… I guess I’ll keep using the spaghetti method, throw things on the wall and see what sticks.

11 Best Non-Fiction Books About Mental Illness

This was one of my most popular posts for 2017, and I’m glad to see it made #1 this year.

Don’t Ban Eleanor & Park

I passionately love this book. I’m always against censorship, but this is a book I wish had been around when I was growing up.

Old Things and Abandoned Places

Apparently, I’m not alone in my love of these things.

10 Best Novels from Over 100 Years Ago

This has been one of my most popular posts ever since I wrote it back in 2011.

Our Dark Duet- A Review

This is the sequel to This Savage Song, and I have strong feelings about them both.

“Master Yoda, Is The Dark Side Stronger?”

My philosophical musings on good vs. evil.

12 Responses to Excuses About Why You’re Not Reading

I’ve seen a lot of posts about “how to read more,” but for me, what it boils down to is, we do what we prioritize.

I Highlight in Books, But Only Monsters Dog-Ear Pages

Seriously though.

10 Best Fiction Books About Mental Illness

I’m glad that people are so interested in books on mental illness.

The Dinner List- A List & A Review

I didn’t expect to enjoy this book as much as I did.

What I’ve Been Doing With My Time

Camera 4 024So… some of you may be wondering what I’ve been doing with my time, because it obviously hasn’t been blogging.

I kept meaning to write a post about it, but it kept getting away from me. I was deep in revisions on my novel, Not Dead Enough.

As a result of the Writer’s League of Texas Manuscript Contest (where I was a finalist), I ended up getting some amazing feedback. There was basic feedback, such as that my main character needed more agency, and big picture feedback, like I needed to make changes to my ending.

The feedback energized me, and I set out to learn more about how to create a character with agency. (More on this in a future blog, but honestly, I had a mental block on this until very recently.)

I’ve been so deep into revisions and learning that every time I thought, “I should write a blog post,” it sort of went in one ear and out the other.

So that’s what I’ve been up to. I’ll be getting back to a weekly blogging schedule as of right now.

See you all next week!

5 Great Books For Writers

I’ve written all my life, but I only seriously started writing a handful of years ago, and I didn’t know nearly as much about writing or what it takes to get published as I thought I did.

In part, that might be a good thing. Sometimes being naive when starting a journey can be helpful. After all, when you don’t know how difficult something is, it can be easier to begin.

While there’s no substitute for putting your butt in the chair and actually writing, there are a lot of books out there that can help point you in the right direction. These are some of the ones I’ve found most helpful.

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On Writing, by Stephen King

Part how-to, part encouragement, there’s so much great advice in this book. Whether or not you actually like Stephen King, this book should be on every writer’s shelf.

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Story Engineering: Mastering the Core Competencies of Successful Writing, by Larry Brooks

This book is my writing bible. No, seriously, it really is. It’s highlighted with tons of post-its stuck to the pages. It lays the structure of a story out in a concrete, simple way that works for my literal brain.

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Write Great Fiction: Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint, by Nancy Kress

My writing critique group told me that my characters needed more agency until I was ready to explode. They also told me that my main characters were “wishy-washy” and “gray.” It’s not that I didn’t agree with them; it’s just that I had no idea how to fix the issue. This is the first book that actually made sense to me as to how to build good characters and sustain them through an entire book.

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Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, by Elizabeth Gilbert

As much as I love writing, sometimes I just get burned out from doing it. I do it because I love it, but sometimes keeping all the balls in the air of juggling plot, character, conflict, etc drives me a little crazy. I read this book at exactly the time in my life that I needed to, and it helped me remember why I fell in love with stories.

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Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done, by Laura Vanderkam

This isn’t technically a book on writing, but if there’s one thing I hear from most people who write, it’s “I wish I had more time to write!” This book has an excellent practical and philosophical take on how to get more done and make the most use of the time we have.

If you write, are there any books you’ve found especially helpful?

10 Ways to Waste Time Instead of Writing

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Want to be a writer, but don’t actually want to write words? Here are some great ways to waste time while complaining that you don’t actually have time to write.

Here are 10 ways to waste time instead of writing:

1. Social media

Any of them! There are so many rabbit holes to disappear into. Want to be enraged about politics? There’s something for that! Cute cat videos more your style? They’re everywhere! Want to voyeuristically spy on everyone you know and read vague statuses about people who are upset about things but don’t actually want to tell anyone what they’re talking about? Oh boy, does social media have those!

2. Play games

My personal favorites are Words With Friends, Soda Crush, and Cribbage. But don’t worry, if those aren’t your style, there are plenty more where those came from.

3. Read

This one hurts me to call “wasting time,” but when it cuts into designated writing time, I think it counts. Bonus points if you pretend it’s research because you’re reading in your genre, or outside your genre, or something with a vague relation to something you’re writing about.

4. Watch TV

After all, you thought about typing four words. Your brain needs to rest now. And maybe that rerun of Jersey Shore will spark creativity.

5. Talk about all the stories you want to write instead of actually writing them

Loudly inform everyone you see that you’re a writer, and tell them every detail of the plot you haven’t actually written yet. Bonus points if their eyes glaze over. Double bonus points for drool.

6. Do all the chores that desperately need to be done RIGHT NOW

Dishes that have been in the sink for 12 hours really can’t wait any longer while you write for an hour. That laundry that’s been there since the weekend isn’t going to fold itself. Do all those leftover chores immediately, then look at the time mournfully and realize that you were once again, too busy to write.

7. Stop writing and do something else if it seems difficult.

All successful writers write in a cloud of rainbow sparkles as the words effortlessly flow from their fingertips. If it feels like work, that means today isn’t the magical writing day. Maybe tomorrow.

8. Look for lots of encouraging quotes and memes on writing

Find the perfect bit of encouragement before you can start. This will mean reading approximately 8,362 web pages, and oops! Writing time is gone today. Too bad you’ll need a different encouragement tomorrow.

9. If it’s not perfect, don’t even write put it on paper

Writing crap isn’t a learning experience that counts toward your 10,000 hours until you’re an expert. Only writing perfect words counts. So what if you only write 6 words a week? You’ll get to that expert level in 30 or 40 years.

10. Obsess over any and all criticism (but don’t learn from it!)

Criticism means you suck. You’ll never write anything worthwhile. You should be better than this by now. Read it over and over again until your self-esteem is shot and you couldn’t write a sentence if you tried. But whatever you do, don’t try to find ways to improve. That would lead to productivity.

What ways do you waste time instead of writing?