Immersive reading was my drug through an unhappy childhood and adolescence, with all the desperate need and avoidance of unpleasant reality that addiction entails. Books damaged my eyes rather than my liver, but they gave far more than they took. I lived more in books than in my hometown. I mainlined stories and characters and other lands, other realities.
There are worse ways to shut out the world.
Viewpoint is a slippery thing. When you’re using first person–as I’m doing right now–what the narrator should know is easy to figure out: The narrator knows exactly what the main character does. But when you’re using third-person, that narrator can know anything at all, and things get a little trickier.
In seventh grade, I left a girl for someone new, effectively breaking her heart in the process. But due to the tumultuous state of middle school romances, I soon wanted her back. To apologize and win her heart, I penned a long sappy note full of regret. I can still see it scribbled in ink, folded neatly into a scare, with her name scrawled on the top. But before I gave it to her I had a (girl) friend of mine read it. She held it to her chest after she finished and said, “You should be a poet.” And if there’s one thing I know for certain it’s that seventh grade girls are experts on what makes excellent poetry. With my ego inflated, I passed the note off to the broken hearted girl, we made amends, and had a very solid, three-month long middle school romance. It was magical.
But as I’ve spent more time in the past few months critiquing a variety of writing, I’ve come to realise that it also provides invaluable experience for me as a writer. (Yes, I realise there’s still an element of self-interest there.) But as I’ve taken the time to look over someone else’s work with a genuine intent to improve it, I’ve found that it’s carried over into my own writing as well.
We all do things for a reason. There is always a driving factor to our actions, whether or not we are aware of it. Consciously, I speed because I’m running late, and I feel embarrassed when attending an event that I consider important, or where I’ll miss part of it–I hate the feeling that I’ve missed out on something. I suspect it’s due to the inherently competitive culture of Asian society. In Singapore, there’s even a common word to describe people who are scared to lose. (“Kiasu”, for those who are curious.)
Writers is a pro and enthusiast Q&A site built by users. Instead of wading through a lot of random discussion to get to the good stuff, the best answers are always voted to the top.