Wednesday, February 1, 2017

IWSG: Hannibal & Clarice


"Can you hear the lambs, Clarice?"

It's the first Wednesday of the month, and that means it's time for the Insecure Writers Support Group blog hop. This month, the question hoppers can answer is: 
How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?

Let me explain it this way:

In "Silence of the Lambs," Hannibal Lechter is always one step ahead of everyone else. He sees minute details others miss, he knows the truth behind everyone's character, and he capitalizes on anyone's mistakes. Clarice is generally left wide-eyed and bewildered at his evil but clever perceptions.

I have Hannibal the Editor, sitting on my shoulder at all times.

I've spent years studying writing craft to try to whip my writing into the best shape possible. It requires a critical eye and analysis from all sides--from the Big Picture to the smallest of details, like word choices that enhance tone. You know the phrase, "Kill your darlings"? Well, to help me write, I've basically created a serial killer of the written word. 

On the good side (if there is one), it's made me more in touch with my genre, my specific niche, what my writing tastes are, and what I want to write. 

On the bad side, I rarely take pleasure from reading anymore. Hannibal won't shut up. The littlest plot hole, characterization foible, cliche, or loss of continuity and Hannibal cackles in my ear, "Look, a mistake! Fix it. Take it out! KILL IT!" Of course, it's not my book to fix, but Hannibal doesn't seem to care. He's a serial killer after all...


This is a post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group, the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh. It exists so the community of blogging writers can share and support each other, blog-hopping to cheerlead and commiserate. To find out more, visit: Insecure Writer's Support Group. Plus, check out the IWSG Website for lots of helpful info and links.

36 comments:

dolorah said...

lol, Hannibal the Editor. Yes, exactly :)

Laura Clipson said...

This is one of the problems I have, it's sometimes so difficult just to sit and enjoy a book!

Sue Bursztynski said...

Oh, that's a shame! I don't notice things till a reread. And I mostly enjoy anyway. On the other hand, there's slush reading. Being a writer certainly affects that!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That critical little dude who just doesn't want to relax and have fun. You need a matching angel on the other shoulder to offset that devil.

Pat Garcia said...

Hi,

It is hard to read a book with lots of errors. I know. A well thought out book is a pleasure to read. I enjoy reading tremendously and I read with a critical eye. I usually tell my critical self, don't make the same mistakes and read on.

All the best.
Shalom aleichem,
Pat

Natalie Aguirre said...

I still can read for enjoyment. Sorry you are critiquing the books you read. While I'm sure you learn from this, I can see why you don't enjoy it as much.

JeffO said...

Fun post. I am glad to say I can read for pleasure, though I notice things much more than I used to.

messymimi said...

Maybe you could get in touch with your inner child and let her do the reading, walling Hannibal off somewhere while she does.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

You need to swap out Hannibal with a Forrest Gump.

Julie Flanders said...

Oh no, Hannibal on your shoulder! That's terrifying. I hope you don't even have any liver and chianti with him. ;)

H.R. Sinclair, Southpaw said...

Oo, scary inner editor.

Bish Denham said...

LOL! Luckily I still enjoy reading for pleasure and am able (most of the time) to shut out the Evil Editor. However, if a book doesn't keep my interest, if I just can't get into the style of writing, I no longer force myself to finish the book. -- I used to feel guilty about not finishing a book. I'd keep thinking it would get better, that I needed to give the author a chance -- Not any more. There are too many other books I want to read.

Jennifer Hawes said...

I'm with you. It takes a lot to impress me when reading. Love that kitty!

Shah Wharton said...

I'd love to hire you Hannibal the Editor one day. :)

I'm the same - I'm always stunned to find I've finished a book these day... mostly I've cast them away when my patience ran out. I had to read a lot of romance to learn enough to write it myself as a ghostwriter, and it was painful reading out of my genre. I did learn a lot though, so it was worth it. Still, that wasn't enjoyable reading. I want more of that!

shahwharton.com

Kate Larkindale said...

I find I'm much more critical than I used to be, but sometimes I can just turn that inner editor off and fall into a book. Unless there are such glaring errors I'm thrown right back out again….

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I wonder if Mr. Harris had any idea he was writing what would become the greatest villain of our generation. I love Red Dragon. I had read all his previous books before he published Red Dragon. It blew me away. Sadly, I think he felt rushed to write another novel when he produced Hannibal.Great post, Lexa.

Raquel Byrnes said...

You know I find that reading in a completely different genre than I write is helpful in quieting my inner editor. I do struggle to stay in the fictional dream though...POV shifts are my kryptonite...they get me every time.
Danger, Love, and Mystery

mshatch said...

I can totally relate to this and I generally don't read in the genre I'm currently writing in. Love the cat :)

Chemist Ken said...

When I read, I rarely pay attention to the writing mechanics, except when the writing is so bad I can't help but notice all the problems. Since I have so many books on my Kindle waiting to be read, I just erase the bad stories and move on.

Stephen Hayes said...

I read little fiction these days. I read much more when I wasn't writing.

Andrew Leon said...

Fortunately for me, I've (almost) always been this critical, so my reading experience didn't really change.

Loni Townsend said...

That is an excellent comparison. I don't think I'm quite that bad, but I also don't have the history of honing as you do.

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

I read a lot and usually notice the small mistakes in a story. They don't bother me; just remind me that things, like commas, sometimes slip past a critical eye. Glad to know I'm not alone. So I ignore the little things and enjoy the story.

Patsy said...

I notice mistakes when reading more than I did before I wrote, but I also appreciate good writing even more.

Rhonda Albom said...

Love your tie in with Silence of the Lambs. My inner editor isn't that polished. I did have a brother-in-law that the Hannibal thing with movies. He would notice every mistake and, like you, couldn't really enjoy them any longer.

Patricia Lynne said...

Just get some duct tape and slap it over his mouth. Tie his hands up too so he can't remove it. Then throw him in the closet and sit down to read. ;)

Raimey Gallant said...

This made me chuckle. However, if Hannibal the Editor starts chirping in my ear, I'm coming back to complain. ;)

Kim Lajevardi said...

I love that your editor is Hannibal. Although, that may be a bit stressful for you. Lol

Olga Godim said...

When I started writing, I hated the phrase "Kill your darlings" and the actions it represented. It took some writing experience before I realized the truth of that short but acute sentiment.

Denise Covey said...

I've basically created a serial killer of the written word. Love it. Shame that we're all saying the same thing--critical reading takes the pleasure out of reading. As you said 'I rarely take pleasure from reading any more.' Are we being overly critical? I think we need to take a step back--why should we expect people to read our books then if we take no pleasure in theirs?

Heather R. Holden said...

I experience this sometimes, too, but probably not as intensely, LOL. So sorry reading has become harder for you to enjoy as a result! Inner editors are such a pain that way...

Lynda R Young said...

Hahahahha "Hannibal the Editor"... I so wish I couldn't relate...

Misha Gericke said...

HAHAHAHA YES! I'm exactly the same. So glad I'm not the only one. :-D

The Cynical Sailor said...

My sister has a cat like that who loves sitting on top of the hamster cage and tormenting them.

DMS said...

What a great post! Awesome job naming the editor. :) Definitely hard when he's reading over our shoulder.
~Jess

Sarah E. Albom said...

Is your new nokia phone a brick or an actual smartphone? I upgraded a year ago but I still miss my brick. Sure you could only text and call, but my new one can't be thrown down the stairs for a laugh.

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