I feel like a copy-editor when I write in the margins of a book, but that’s only 5% of what I’m feeling most of the time. The other 95% of the time, I feel like a grave-digger, desecrating someone’s coffin, except accidentally. Like I had been carrying the shovel, tripped over my feet, and somehow lodged the shovel into the gravestone, which fell backwards and was too heavy for my to set upright and too stiff for me to dislodge the shovel. (I would expect this of myself – I’m extraordinarily clumsy.)
Either way, I still do it, talking to myself in front of a mirror in order to encourage myself to do it. It’s good practice. Good learning. I should annotate what I read in order to analyze an author’s style and figure out why it works, how it works.
To keep it speedy (and hopefully less distracting while I read), I use a serious of symbols and abbreviations. Here’s my list of them while I go:
chc – characterization
img – imagery
set – setting
cf – conflict, usually the big problem in the story
sum – summary, usually coincides with transitions, or info dump
sc – scene, usually will start with an action or dialogue
! – tense moment, high emotion, big reaction
trns – transition
cmx – climax
+ – complication, more pluses for bigger complication
❤ – I liked it
* – feels important, last time I used this was for important dialogue
While I look through my notes, I can tell you I include a lot of brackets, a lot of arrows with my symbols and abbreviations because I want to try to tell myself how long is the scene, how long is the summary. I try to keep it in the margins so it’s not distracting if I want to read or re-read the story.
A lot of the times, there’s a few fragments of thoughts too, example: I like this (<3) or is this the theme? History of the characters? Who’s this?