One of my dearest friends is an architecture student and a historical preservation nerd. The kind of person who likes to visit cemetaries and old houses on vacation.
Once after having the moldings or other period detail pointed out to me one too many times, my friend asked me if I looked at books the way she looked at buildings. My first reaction was to blurt out “NO! Because books aren’t boring and buildings are.”
After I got over my initial prejudice I realized that she’s absolutely right. Since getting serious about writing a novel I read differently. When I read a book I pay more attention to the structure of the story than I used to. If an author throws me a whole chapter of back story I make a mental note about whether or not it worked. I particularly pay attention to endings and how the whole denoument is handled. If a familiar plot structure is used, I’m aware of it. I still read for the pure pleasure of getting lost in a story, but now when I read I’m more aware of what the author is doing to create that experience for me, the reader.
And now, thanks to an observant friend, I’m aware that I’m doing it. How has writing changed the way you read?
1 thought on “An Appreciation for Structure”
1. I knew you were getting annoyed with the building talk but being a good friend you hid it well.
2. Books and buildings contain the spaces in which we live. 3. Authors and architects – we aren’t so different.
4. When is that book tour – I’m ready to meet Oprah.