Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Writing { and reading and publishing } ~

Rewriting While You Read ~ We All Do It …

What? We all rewrite what we’re reading? How in the world can I propose such an idea?

Matter of fact, I proposed it in two posts on my old blog: ReadWriteReadWriteReadWrite… & What’s It Like Inside When You Read A Book?.

In the second post just mentioned, I gave a little formula to help explain what I mean:

“Reading is to Writing as Hearing is to Speaking.”

Then, I asked a question:

“Do we always hear exactly what the other person’s saying?”

So, when we read, do we always get the meaning the author intended when they wrote the words?

In the case where we don’t hear what the other person’s saying, there are quite a few factors that can change the meaning as it travels from their mouth to our brain; one of the strongest being our own brain. We capture words with our ears and our brain reaches in and adds its own interpretation.

Sometimes, the change from spoken word to perceived meaning is as great as what the person at the end of the circle of whispered words says—almost always completely different from what the first person said…

Whether spoken or written, words are some of the slipperiest entities humans deal with.

As far as written words go, there is the common rewriting we can do when the book is old and the language has grown in a new direction.

But, what about a book written not long ago? Why would a reader’s brain insist on reinterpreting the meaning the author intended?

[My muse insisted I insert this sentence: “I certainly don’t mean that a reader can never understand anything about what the writer has written…”]

I wrote this post mostly to get you thinking and I’ll end it with a statement you may completely disagree with:

I think the reader’s rewriting of the book the author has written is totally natural and our world would be boring as hell if it didn’t happen :-)

What do you think?
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12 responses to “Rewriting While You Read ~ We All Do It …

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Rewriting While You Read ~ We All Do It … « Notes from An Alien --

  2. HaleyWhitehall January 10, 2011 at 12:23 am

    I enjoyed reading this post. I agree with you that everyone rewrites while they reads. I often rewrite while I read especially if I find myself reading a boring book. I change the meaning of sentences to make them more interesting and the story bearable. This might sound crazy, but it works for me. This skills was especially useful in school. I don’t distort so much of the prose that the story no longer makes sense. I just spice it up a bit.


  3. Alexander M Zoltai January 10, 2011 at 12:45 am

    Yes! Spice it up :-)

    I visited your blog.

    I also added it to my Blogroll :-)


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  5. Chloe January 24, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    Yes, I guess I re-write as I read…possibly that’s the writer in me though…I am often dismayed if I read something by a published author that is ‘lazy’ or non-descript. I mean, I can write like that myself, why pay good money for it too? lol

    I think the way we interpret a book is the way we interpret life and that depends upon the environment we have grown up in and our perception of the world. So an intended message might be lost by an author. I guess that’s why some writing speaks to some folks and not to others. An author, however, cannot have total control of what we think/imagine as a result of their words…


  6. Alexander M Zoltai January 24, 2011 at 3:17 pm


    All of what you just said rings true but you summed up the whole reason I wrote this post with: “An author…cannot have total control of what we think/imagine as a result of their words…”

    Thanks :-)


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  10. jalapenopopey March 5, 2018 at 3:01 pm

    Great post really gets me thinking about the reader and their ideas and passions a good thing to focus on when writing.


  11. Alexander M Zoltai March 5, 2018 at 3:10 pm

    Yep — Writer’s “medicine” :-)


  12. Pingback: Bad Reviews Are Good ? | Notes from An Alien

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