When you read a book, what do your eyes see? What do they perceive?
Writers extend to virtually every corner of the earth; east, west, south, north and arguably are the most fascinating people on the planet. Well if you ask me, they are the most fascinating people on the planet. It’s no great secret that I take great joy in interviewing them. To discover and share in their craft, learn how they tick, or don’t. Fascinating indeed.
I had a crazy thought of interviewing writers from a completely different perspective. Most writers began their journey as readers so why not get a view into this experience? So here it is, the Forensic Lenses series. An investigative and exploratory approach into the minds of your favorite authors.
Do you–follow the reader?
Her name is KM Weiland.
K.M. Weiland is an award-winning, butt-kicking, internationally published author of the bestselling Outlining Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel books. She writes speculative and historical fiction from imaginary lands. Her blog helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com is regularly ranked in Writer’s Digest top 101 Best Websites For Writers every year, but is #1 in my book. She puts up with writers like me who don’t know grammar yet. Way to go Kate!
In the history of the blogosphere, there has never been such a defining moment until today. As a token of our appreciation we bestow upon you, KM Weiland, the ever noble…
Seal of Awesomeness
Wear it with dignity and honor.
*applause, standing ovation*
Alright, so let’s cut to the chase.
Was reading Scottish Chiefs by Jane Porter, the inciting Incident in your path of becoming a writer? You mentioned how this sparked your love of history, laid the groundwork for your book A man called Outlaw, influenced your novel Behold the Dawn and not to mention your desire to write historical fiction.
How has your reading experience and love for stories evolved from childhood, teenage, to adulthood?
I have always loved stories. They have always been my language. But I was a very undisciplined reader as a child and teenager. My parents weren’t readers themselves and weren’t able to guide my reading choices. I read and loved and re-read (and re-read and re-read) a few classics like Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, The Black Stallion. But I also read a lot of highly forgettable children’s novels–and probably every book in the Star Wars Extended Universe that had been published to that point. It wasn’t until I was in my late teens that I started discovering better quality fiction and disciplining myself to read widely and broadly–especially in the classics. It’s my goal to read all the classics before I die. I’m working my way through the authors alphabetically. So far, I’m up to M.
Most of my childhood reading was from the library. My grandparents and aunts bought me a lot of books as well. I tended to reread the books I owned a lot–hence the multiple visits to Anne of Green Gables and Co. As for writing affecting my reading… You hear a lot about authors who find that their own awareness of the principles of writing turns them into hypercritical readers and robs them of the joy of reading. But I’ve never really experienced that. Maybe because I’ve always been hypercritical! :p For me, writing has only enhanced my reading. Instead of *just* reading for pleasure, now I also read with a writer’s eye and get to explore and enjoy the psychology and craft of every new author’s work. It brings a whole new dimension to my appreciation of a good book.
I really appreciate this. Having a writer’s eye, exploring and enjoying the craft are all pluses!
AT THE SCENE OF THE CRIME…
As a reader what are your 3-5 pet peeves and why?
- Flat narrative voices that “tell” instead of “show.”
- Self-indulgent authors, who are obviously too in love with their own story worlds and characters to be objective about the reader experience.
- Unnecessary prologues
- Repetitious dialogue
- Overuse of character names when addressing each other in dialogue
It’s good to be aware of these. Thanks!
I’ve often heard you say you must read all the Classics before you die. It must be high on the bucket list! So why this journey through the Classics and what impressions do you have?
For the purposes of challenging myself to read all the classics, I define a classic as any book published before 1966 with a title or author I recognize. I started the challenge really just as a way to get myself to read the important literature landmarks from history. It’s been an interesting journey–tedious at times, but, overall, definitely worth the effort. I feel like I’ve vastly broadened myself and my understanding of people, the world, and writing. It’s made me read books by authors I never would have touched otherwise–from so many time periods and countries and about so many different topics. I estimate I’m about halfway done (I’ve just reached the “M” authors). I’ve found it incredibly rewarding.
I’m looking forward to your response when you’re finished as well. I’ve been thinking a lot about the most influential authors of the century. How they left their footprint upon society and the craft of writing.
Every great writer has left their footprints in the craft. We gladly follow in their footsteps. But as we do, we don’t realize we begin to make our own.
BONUS: Your mission should you choose to except it, would be to note the changes in the craft while reading the Classics.
The primary facets of good storytelling have remained the same over time: structure, character, and theme. I would cite two things in particular as the biggest changes over the years:
1) The visual style. Television, the movies, and the Internet have made the far corners of the world accessible to everyone. As a result, complex descriptions of foreign places and things are no longer necessary. Writers today need only a few vivid details to bring a scene to life for readers, who can then fill in the blanks for themselves. At the same time, however, due to the overwhelmingly visual nature of entertainment these days, authors also have to be much more evocative in their descriptions. Readers want to see a “movie” in their heads, which is why “showing” (instead of “telling”) has become such a touted technique.
2) The pacing is much tighter and faster these days, for the most part. Again, the culture in which we now live is faster-paced and more than a little distracted. Readers today aren’t as patient with long, flowing passages. They want to get to the point.
Excellent! Thanks so much for sharing.
*Please see KM Weiland‘s Amazon author page and her award winning books!
*For further contact visit kmweiland.com and her award winning blog at helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com or on Twitter @KMWeiland.
*Join the 2016 Reading book challenge on Goodreads!
Storming: A Dieselpunk Adventure Novel One of my favorite reads of 2016!
Dreamlander Read the BRAG Medallion winner and NIEA finalist!
Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success Don’t miss this award-winning beauty! One of personal favorites.
Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story
An award winning blockbuster and must have writing book! One of personal favorites.
Today a READER,
tomorrow a LEADER.
Never underestimate the power of a good book