Reading and Thinking, Or Not?

How much thinking do you like to do when you read? I would suppose that if you read a lot of non-fiction, then you do quite a bit of thinking while reading. But I wonder how different this is for fiction-lovers.

A reviewer of Crossing Values recently made an interesting comment on her blog. You can read the full review here, but the statement that sticks out is this: “As I posted my review on Amazon, there were many people that said they also wanted more from the story.  Could it be because we are so used to the mainstream movies, novels, and stories?”

When I was young and my access to books was more limited, I read every word on every page. Well, okay, probably even then I skipped the acknowledgement pages (click here for why I do not include acknowledgement pages in my books). But every other page in the book was consumed, frequently more than once.

But these days, considering I maintain a very busy schedule including a part-time job, three children, and a writing career, I often skip parts I deem unnecessary. What parts are those? Well, I suppose I could best summarize them as the parts that go into too much detail.

Description is one area that frequently gets skimmed. The guy is tall and cute. Got it. My imagination takes care of filling in the blanks on what it considers tall and cute. You want to give him one identifying aspect? Awesome. I tend to grab it and move on.

He walked into the dining room. Got it. Again, my imagination tends to take over and I tend to skip down to the next paragraph.

Another detail that drives me crazy is when authors go too far in explanations on why someone behaves or thinks a particular way. For example, I may need to know that the woman of your story hates dogs because she was terrorized by her neighbor’s pet as a child. I do not need to know that it scared her and she had bad dreams at night. I can figure that part out on my own as that’s the natural consequence for most people.

But that’s just me. One of my dearest friends absolutely loves a particular modern author because he takes time to describe in great detail the scenes in his novel.

I skip those pages. She is satisfied in them.

And that’s okay.

What about you? Do you love great description and want to be told every little thing? Or do you prefer the bare bones information and let your mind take care of the rest?

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