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I didn’t care for the book I was reading. Surely, you’ve been there. You picked it up thinking it looked intriguing only to find out it’s a disappointment. You’re not enjoying the story, you can’t root for the character, and the writing just isn’t your style.

That is the moment of decision: to finish the book or not to finish it.

Finish Line

photo by jayneandd

Unfortunately, the decision doesn’t rest in whether you like the story or not.

The decision should be made on this one question: Are you learning? 

Yes

Finish it. Maybe the writer’s dialogue stinks but her exposition is far superior to yours. Take notes on what she does well in addition to what she doesn’t do so well.

Reading something bad also helps you think like an editor. With the critical eye you pick up from reading her bad dialogue, you can go back to your own current draft and pick out some of the same things in your own work.

Her weakness can make you a stronger writer.

No

If you’re not enjoying the piece and you’re not learning from it, don’t finish it. There are too many other good things to read. Set it down and move on. Your time is better spent elsewhere.

However, before you take it back to the library, work on articulating why you didn’t like that particular book and what would have made it better.

Do you finish reading everything you start or do you put them down and move on?

PRACTICE

Borrow two well-established characters and write about their interaction.

How would Captain Hook respond to Harry Potter? What would Elizabeth Darcy say to Katniss? What about Wall-E to Huck Finn?

It doesn’t have to be good. It just has to be creative.

When you’re done, post it in the comments and comment on a few other posts.

Katie Axelson
Katie Axelson
Katie Axelson is a writer, editor, and blogger who's seeking to live a story worth telling. You can find her blogging, tweeting, and facebook-ing.
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