I confess. I can be a skimmer. You have the book in hand and you skip a line here or there, then it’s two lines and before you know it, you’ve skimmed until the action starts again.
With my novel in the rewrite stage, I want every word to count. My latest mantra is by Kurt Vonnegut: “Every sentence must do one of two things – reveal character or advance the action.” Uh-huh. Okay. Sure. When I’m ready, I’d rather the feedback from my critique group, or beta-readers is on my story, not the time they spent skimming.
So, while I go back to my work in progress, I hope you enjoy this post by Todd Ritter
Confessions of a Reader
Bless me, authors, for I have sinned. My sin is a terrible one, committed against the written word. It is a sin of omission. What makes it worse is that I’ve committed this sin before and probably will again. What is this sin, you may ask. Well, since this is a confession, I must admit that I, Todd Ritter, have skipped pages when reading a book.
I know, I know. It’s awful. As a writer, I know how much effort goes into each and every page. In fact, I’ve spent entire afternoons trying to compose one page worthy of publication. Yet, sometimes when I read, I can’t stop myself from skipping a page or two or four.
There are two reasons for this nasty habit of mine, one good and one bad. The good reason is that sometimes a book has gripped me so much that I must absolutely know what happens next. This occurred last weekend as I was reading a thriller currently hovering at the top of the best-seller lists. (Why be coy? It was GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn.) I knew there was a major twist in the book. I also knew it was soon. So, with my interest definitely piqued and my heart racing, I began to skip a sentence here and there. Soon I was leaping over entire paragraphs. And then, well, whole pages flew by. I tried to stop myself. I really did. But it was of no use. Those pages passed unread. (For the record, I must add that GONE GIRL is a phenomenally written book. I’m sure those skipped pages were my loss.)
But now we come to the bad reason for skipping pages — I’m just not into the book. This, coincidentally, also happened last week. Again, I was reading a book — more literary than thriller — that’s received great buzz and has an amazing cover. (That’s all you’re going to learn about this one. I don’t like to talk smack about the works of other writers, so I must remain coy.) The prose was fine and the story intriguing, but I found my attention straying. The characters didn’t grab me and the plot was taking its good old time to get going. In short, I was bored. Not enough to put the book down, mind you, but enough to start leafing through the pages, giving them only cursory glances in search of the good stuff. I stopped to read long passages here and there, but I suspect I skipped a good fifty pages of this novel. And I’m not sure if I missed anything important.
Still, I feel guilty about both instances. Books, after all, are meant to be savored. Every page is a brushstroke in a larger portrait, and by skipping some of them, I’m not seeing the full picture. So, in order to assuage my guilt, I vow to read every word of the next book I pick up. No skipping for me! (Well, maybe. You never know.)
So that’s my confession. Now I want to hear yours. Have you ever skipped pages in a book? If so, for what reason?
I echo Todd’s question – Have you ever skipped pages in a book? If so, for what reason?