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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » do you read every word in ALL novels?

   
Author Topic: do you read every word in ALL novels?
arriki
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I mean...I just read UTOPIA by Lincoln Child and found myself skipping a lot of the text. It wasn't always merely a lot of information I didn't want to hear, it was...something...in the story text. For me, they could have saved a lot of paper and ink and I would have liked the story better.

So, do any of the rest of you out there skip text?

What kind of text do you skip.

What makes you suddenly start skipping?


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Leigh
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I sometimes do it. I admit it, can't remember what novels they are. But I only skip text when my eyes are really starting to droop for me, meaning I'm getting realy tired.
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quidscribis
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I skip text in pretty much everything I read - I can't remember the last time I read every word of a novel. I typically read about 70% to 80% of the text.

What will send me skipping entire pages will be excessive detail that doesn't move the story along. When it's pages and pages and pages and pages of background info (The Far Pavilions, Les Miserables, Michener's infamous coral forming bits in Tales of the South Pacific, I think), I'll skip entire chapters.


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cvgurau
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I'll read ahead, but I don't skip. I can't. I always fear missing something important.
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ChrisOwens
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Never. Well a few chapters ago in The Great Hunt, I skipped: Flicker, Flicker, Flicker, Flicker, Flicker, Flicker, Flicker, Flicker, Flicker, Flicker, Flicker, Flicker, Flicker, Flicker, Flicker, Flicker, Flicker, Flicker, Flicker...

After the first few I got the point. Too, I didn't read all the glossary in The Eye Of The World. Some not all. However, I felt guilty. If I can't read a book from cover to cover, what kind of reader would I be?


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Kolona
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I'll skip all the technical stuff. I don't need to know how everything works.
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Robert Nowall
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Well, I can skim through, catching most-but-not-all words. Or I can savor, read slowly, a chapter or two at a time, catching nearly every word (but still not all). Or, if it's something I really need to read, I'll just flip-flip-flip and get most of it. Or somewhere in between any of them.

It does seem, though, that I'm reading three or four books all at once. Right now I'm reading "Mao: The Untold Story," at a rate somewhere between skim and savor, "The Lord of the Rings" (again) at savor, and "Seventh Son," also at savor. What I'm reading depends on what room of my house I'm in and where the book is.

Obscure details tend to catch my eye. In "Seventh Son," I found myself drawn to some of the character Taleswapper's comments on (to us) alternate history, and just a few minutes ago some fascinating stuff on millstones.


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Survivor
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I skim if I'm trying to extract information out of somthing I otherwise wouldn't be reading. I also occasionally skip to my favorite part of a book I've already read. But when I'm reading a new book for pleasure, I don't do either. I just put the book down if the text isn't holding my attention.
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Rahl22
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I'm with Survivor on this one.
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AstroStewart
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Yeah, same here. The closest I've ever come to skipping was in books where there are chapters that take you away from the MC and are not as interesting, I'll skip ahead and see when I get to read about the storyline I care about again. But then I always read what's in between anyway, for fear of missing something crucial.
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luapc
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I do read most everything in a book or story, regardless, but there are exceptions. One particular series of books comes to mind. The series is The Sea of Time series by SM sterling.

While I really liked the books, there was one thing in them that had nothing to do with the story, and I just couldn't stand to read. For some reason, Sterling set up a lesbian relationship between one of the main characters and another minor character. At various places through out the series of three books, he'd have long love scenes of two to three pages that did nothing for the story and was totally irrelevant. I wouldn't have minded these scenes if they had been relevant, but they seemed to be there for shock value only.

After reading the first of these sections, I simply passed over them when I came upon other scenes like them later on, and never missed any relevant plot points.


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pjp
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If I'm skipping anything, its because I'm tired, or not interested. In case of the former, I put the book down, and go back a ways when I pick it up again. The latter case hasn't happened often.

Recently though, I've found myself having difficulty getting through Beneath the Moors (short stories) by Brian Lumley. I found myself completely unable to continue reading one story, Rising with Surtsey, and began reading each of the remaining three stories in the book. Each time I began, I had no interest in continuing.

I've put the book down for a while, and will give the remaining three stories another chance, when I'm more 'in the mood.'

I won't read anything if I need to 'skip' parts though. I either like it, or I don't.

[This message has been edited by pjp (edited February 09, 2006).]


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hoptoad
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I'm a 'read every word' man
Also a 'look it up in the dictionary' man.

If I see a word out of place I'll look it up and make sure I understand it. I'll even look at derivations for greater depth.

I can't seem to skim too well unless I am looking for a quote in something I have read thoroughly before, but I tend to write in the margins when I come across something special so skimming is not onerous, I'm usually skimming my comments.

My wife thinks I'm a kook for keeping a dictionary next to the toilet. I just figure that nature abhors a vacuum.

By the way, it can take me a month or more to get through some books - but by the same token, I have never felt the need or desire to reread a book.


Edit: Last Point: I only skip passage in non-fiction works. I go straight to the relevent sections, unless I'm reading it for fun.

PS" My daughter hates reading a book in which I have scrawled in the margins, but my son loves it.

[This message has been edited by hoptoad (edited February 09, 2006).]


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rcorporon
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Songs/poetry. I loathe songs/poetry.

Tolkien's pages of songs all got skipped on my reading.

I don't mind like 2 or 3 lines, but when you start writing poetry, I'm tuning out.

It I wanted to read Yeats, I'd have bought Yeats.

[This message has been edited by rcorporon (edited February 09, 2006).]


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hoptoad
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oh, heh heh.
Yeah, I skip poetry in novels too... they make my skin crawl

(So much for the I read every word thing...)


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trousercuit
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Ditto on the poetry in novels - just isn't my thing, unless it's vital to the plot somehow. (Then, often as not, I find myself reading it only after I've discovered that it's vital because the author didn't clue me in at first.) I prefer to put a book down that isn't holding my attention.

Hmm... actually, the "love scene in the air" in the fourth Hitchhiker's Guide got the flick-flick-flick from me. I just wasn't interested. Arthur Dent isn't supposed to get lucky. I simply pretended those pages didn't exist. And then, later, I pretended the rest of the novel didn't exist for similar reasons.

The words I skip most are forum posts. Any post that doesn't fit on one screen is a candidate, as are posts that don't have clear paragraph breaks. I make exceptions for those with really stand-out opening sentences.


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cvgurau
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rcorporon reminded me of the only time I've ever skipped womething without fear of missing something important: In Auels Shelters of Stone, she includes a three- or four-page-long poem several times. I read it once, and not again.

Other than that, though, I'm loathe to skip or skim unless, as others have mentioned, I've already read the book.


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Whitney
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Has anyone read the full-length version of Les Miserables? Aacckk! Back in my youngers days, it felt beneath me to read any classic abridged. Inspired by the wonderful musical, I decided to read it, and hoo-boy! Long, droning passages on the Napoelonic wars that had absolutely nothing to do with the story line between Javert/Cosette/Marius/Val Jean. I wanted to pull my hair out and skiped over several dozen pages worth of book to get to the actual story. Glad I was doing it for fun and not for school.
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CoriSCapnSkip
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If I make up my mind to read a book, I'm obsessive-compulsive about reading EVERY word.
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benskia
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rcorporon put into words exactly what I wanted to say.
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rcorporon
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Nice to know I'm not the only one who glosses over that poetry.
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arriki
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How about prologues?

I skip the ones that are all in italics.

I also will skim then skip if the prologue is not interesting or not obviously relevant. If it is the inciting incident, I'll hang in there.

Hmmm...thought of something else I usually ignore -- those little quotes or...whatever...at the top of a chapter opening. You know those things. I've read VERY few that actually developed story.

[This message has been edited by arriki (edited February 10, 2006).]


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pmcalduff
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Iím afraid I have to join CoriSCapnSkip in the obsessive compulsive category. I have to read every word. Quotes, prologues, introductions, glossaries, maps, diagrams, you name it, if itís in a book Iím going to read, I just have to read it.

Actually I just thought of one thing I never read; excerpts from other novels. If Iím interested in some other book by the same author I just buy it.


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ethersong
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One thing I usually hate to read is the introduction. Why am I going to read the author's thoughts on a book before I've read the book? Usually, I find them boring and uninteresting because I really don't know the book yet. Sometimes if its a really good book or an author I really like, I'll go back and read it...but not usually.
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CoriSCapnSkip
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And the footnotes! In fact, that's one advantage of novels--they usually don't have footnotes! Because I MUST read the footnotes!
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pmcalduff
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Ah, yes. I forgot all about footnotes. Youíre right, novels usually donít have them, but if you have an anthology of ďliteratureĒ it is bound to have some and of course they just have to be read.
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quidscribis
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Unless you're reading something by husband, in which case, there are footnotes.

In his defense, they do add a lot of humour.


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Survivor
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Yeah, I read both poems and footnotes too.
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Monolith
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I try to read every word, but sometimes I skip them and then have to go back and read the section I just read.

I just recently read two X-Men novels. One was by Marjorie Lui and the other by Marc Cerasini. Both were great reads and I'll probably read them again in the near future. I did read every word in these two. They were engrossing.

I found myself wanting to skip through Tolkien's LOTR, but then again, I haven't picked that up in about 6 or 7 months.

But that's just me.


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Corky
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JONATHAN STRANGE AND DR. NORRELL has footnotes.

And I read every one of them.


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TruHero
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I just read "The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Nighttime". It was an interesting book. Not spectacular, but good. It had footnotes, which I read, but I did do alot of skimming. I actually liked the footnotes better than some of the chapters in the book. I find that even with the skimming I pick up most of the information, and can retain it pretty well.

I hardly ever read every word in a book. I usually skim through the prologue and any authors notes or forward/introductions. I always skip the chapter headings, the connections to the chapter are usually very thin anyway. I never read songs or poetry within the chapters, as they usually have no bearing on the chapter or the story.

I guess I look for the "meat and potatoes" of the story, and hope for the big piece of cheese cake at the end for dessert. How else do you think I got through 11 Wheel of Time novels? After books 5 through 9, there had better be an entire dessert buffet of an ending, or I am going to be pissed!


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Paul-girtbooks
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I love to luxuriate in words, to taste them. So, yeah, other than dialog tags such as 'he said' 'she said' I read every word. As a result I'm a slow reader.

[This message has been edited by Paul-girtbooks (edited February 14, 2006).]


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Ray
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I read everything in a novel, from the intros to the afterwards, the quotes and the footnotes. I can't help myself, because I have to know everything a book is about, unless it's really boring. So I skip to the last five or so pages just to find out how it ends, then I never touch the book again.
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Survivor
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I had a dream the other night that Jordon came out with his thickest book yet, which took place (chronologically) between the second and third books and detailed the history of a minor character that someone met in an inn during the third book.

I've said it before, it's a trilogy. Don't get your hopes up.


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Ted Galacci
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I agree with TruHero on the meat and potatoes reading. Anything that appears to be padding gets only passing glances.

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arriki
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So, what constitutes "padding" in your opinion?

Excessive detail? Incidents that don't support one of the main storylines? Too much narrative commentary within a scene? Commentary that points out the obvious? Repetitive speech or narration to no effect?


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Survivor
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Anything that I don't wish I'd written.
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TruHero
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arriki,
Yes, exactly. All of the stuff that I might term "filler". Jordan is a good example. I don't need to know what everyone is wearing or how they wear their hair etc...
I don't need a retelling of the story before every book in a series begins. Most Fantasy books have a lot of "fluff" in them. It isn't necessary, in my opinion.

If it moves the plot along then great. If it doesn't then all those words, hang around like week old fish and stink up the story. My college english teacher used to call it ENG-FISH. I still use the term today, as I'm sure she does.

Oh, I almost forgot to second what Survivor said. (Anything that I don't wish I'd written.) is perfect!

[This message has been edited by TruHero (edited February 20, 2006).]

[This message has been edited by TruHero (edited February 20, 2006).]


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