Since my official topic here is learning about writing from what I reading, I found a lot to think about in the latest Writing Excuses about Reading Critically, not as a critic, though, but as a writer.
I was most struck by the discussion of that period when you first get serious about writing and suddenly all you see in what you read are the flaws. Don’t I know that feeling! When I started keeping a journal of reading notes, it was full of invective and outrage about OMG TEH RULES THEY ARE BROKE. For example, I have pages and pages of notes about exactly how Old Man’s War made me crazy. But it seems to be a phase from what they say. I hope so.
As they suggest, I also have found it useful to go through a story I like and pick apart its structure. It can take a while, but it’s always fascinating. I still find it difficult to figure out how an author manages to affect me emotionally; the dang emotions get in the way every time.
The one thing I think I needed most to hear was that if a story hits you hard, that’s a sign of something you’re passionate about, an indicator of who you are as a writer. I am intimidated by stories that have deeply moved me, and it’s encouraging to hear maybe that’s exactly why I should try to emulate them. Maybe I will.