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Do you skim? : Conversation question • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

Do you skim?

Every month in Writer's Digest's InkWell section, we pose a question related to the writing life. Tell us your thoughts.
elle33
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Do you skim?

Postby elle33 » Thu Aug 14, 2014 9:19 pm

I'm taking a short photography class. Tonight the instructor said that viewing pictures is a lot like reading. You start at the top (background), go to the middle, and finally to the foreground at the bottom (in a 'z' pattern). He compared it to reading, because when we read, we skim. We don't read every word.

My best friend is an avid reader and devours books quickly. She skims and often misses things in the text when we compare notes. While I don't hang on to every word, I do feel I read every word.

And that is when I stopped paying attention in class and started thinking about writing and wondered what you all would think about his statement. I now have no idea what this weeks assignment is supposed to be. :D I wondered, do you skim when you read?

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MookyMcD
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Re: Do you skim?

Postby MookyMcD » Thu Aug 14, 2014 10:40 pm

I don't, but it isn't by choice. I am a slow reader, and at times it would be nice to have the capacity to skim. I can't even turn off the internal editor when reading -- if there is a questionable (not even incorrect) word choice or punctuation decision or something in a book, it brings me to a screeching halt. As a result, authors who play with conventions, like Cormac McCarthy are painful for me to read.

I also have a vivid movie playing in my head whenever I read anything, and couldn't possibly read faster than the movie unfolds. Combine that with the fact that I've spent my career reading dry text line-by-line looking for particular meanings that a missing comma or plural versus singular or something like that can mean, and I'm surprised I don't read even slower than I do.

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updog
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Re: Do you skim?

Postby updog » Thu Aug 14, 2014 10:59 pm

I read every word. When I start reading too fast I start guessing at what is written, and that leads to confusion, and when I get confused I have to go back and reread the stuff I read wrong. In the end, it takes me twice as long to read it if I skim. :mrgreen:
"Is it weird in here, or is it just me?" ~ Steven Wright



elle33
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Re: Do you skim?

Postby elle33 » Thu Aug 14, 2014 11:05 pm

I don't necessarily read slowly, but I just don't skim, which would probably be a contradiction because that definitely slows me down. I guess part of me is afraid I'll miss something. My editor sucks, as you've probably noticed in the few things I've posted on here. :lol:

I tend to be very formal in my writing, maybe just how I'm wired. I don't know... I tend to read books and envision them as movies as well. I think that slows down reading a bit.

Cormac McCarthy? I don't think I've read anything of his, but I did try to watch No Country For Old Men. I couldn't finish it.. I don't think I'd make it through the book. :) I like pretty, squishy, cuddly things, that was NOT any of those things. :lol:

@updog - Me too! I get in a hurry, or interrupted and always go back a page or two. Skimming is bad. :)

elle33
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Re: Do you skim?

Postby elle33 » Thu Aug 14, 2014 11:08 pm

I also use too many emoticons on message boards. The urge to put one here is agonizing, but I will not break. ugh! Yep, it's killing me...right NOW!

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shadowwalker
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Re: Do you skim?

Postby shadowwalker » Thu Aug 14, 2014 11:27 pm

The only thing I skim is descriptions or exposition - but only if they start getting really long or really technical. Otherwise I read every word.
"It seems rather like wanting to be ... a writer, rather than wanting to write. It should be a by-product, not a thing in itself. Otherwise, it's just an ego trip." - Roger Zelazny

It's really not that hard. Just tell me a story.

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DrG2
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Re: Do you skim?

Postby DrG2 » Thu Aug 14, 2014 11:32 pm

I occasionally skim inadvertently. I might find myself skipping a 250 word description of a room, or something like that.

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onceuponwednesday
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Re: Do you skim?

Postby onceuponwednesday » Thu Aug 14, 2014 11:41 pm

Tom Robbins makes me want to skim. Not that he's a bad writer, not at all, but his penultimate chapters are always some unrelated political slog of a rant that I really just want to skip.

I read every word too. I'm pretty much a standard one page a minute reader. But with really good books there's times where I go into a dream-like state and I go several pages without reading a single word.
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TerryRodgers
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Re: Do you skim?

Postby TerryRodgers » Fri Aug 15, 2014 6:54 am

Every word for me, including title page and thank yous.

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Brien Sz
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Re: Do you skim?

Postby Brien Sz » Fri Aug 15, 2014 7:28 am

If I get sucked in, every word. If my attention drifts I'll skim.

I also have zero issue putting a book down and moving on to the next one. Life's too short to waste my time with the notion that I have to finish what I started - especially in books.

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