The best annotations come to mind when something we read catches our eye, or makes us think about or link two ideas together.
Reading something with a critical eye; that is, with an eye to look out for a deeper meaning or to develop a deeper understanding of the text is much different than reading something in a passive manner. For example, to read a romantic novel such as “Dear John” by Nicholas Sparks is in depth, but the words are exposed and they are very raw to the person who is reading the, so that we can easily understand what is happening in the text, and how it is meant to be interpreted. Actions, clothing etc; are described and we as readers are well able to picture them and understand the context in which the writer has meant us to read his/her text. This allows us to read passively, allowing the details to float into our minds and paint a picture for us.
To read Shakespeare, is more vague in a sense; a lot of the interpretation is left for us to determine ourselves. In order to do this its important to read critically, dig deep and look at the actual context in which his words are being written. To achieve a good understanding of this, it is important to actively read the text and while I’m reading, I pay attention to the tone used, the rhyme if there is one, and to the diction of the text. If something stands out to me, for example, the context in which a particular word is used, or the tone in which something is said, while I’m reading it, I tend to note down my observations in the margins of the book. I usually pin point the rhyme if there is one, by marking the highs and lows (in this case, of Shakespeare’s use of Iambic Pentameter). I find it helpful to pay close attention to the entrance and exit directions in the play’s because this helps me as a reader to understand the context which the author is intending for their audience to perceive.
When I’m watching a film however, I’ve noticed that I find it extremely difficult to follow along with the text simultaneously. I think this is mainly a personal preference because when I read a text I develop my own interpretation of it and when I’m watching a movie, essentially I’m watching the director’s interpretation of the text. Usually this conflicts with mine, therefore I find it better to start fresh on a new piece of paper and take notes on the new take that I’m watching. I find it quite helpful for me to read first and watch later because if I read first I am allowing my brain to get a grasp on the bigger picture and then allowing that picture to be altered by the movie and the director. I usually pay close attention to the way the scenes are shot, the camera work, the zooming in and out of a scene, who the camera is focused on, and how it captures the text and distinctively portrays certain characters. I like to watch most movies on my laptop at home and take my notes in a notebook with a pen and paper.
Something else I also notice, is that when I’m watching a film, I tend to focus first on analyzing the way the camera focuses on specific characters, in order to determine what kind what kinds of angles are used, the cinematography, the way in which the actors perform, how they’re dressed, their body language,etc. This helps me to determine the way in which the author represents and portrays the characters allowing us to visualize where his or her thought process is coming from.
All in all, I would most definitely say that I appreciate a written text much more than I appreciate film and even more than that I quite enjoy theatre. As a student who comes from a Musical Theatre background, I have experienced a vast majority of plays and I don’t think I could ever get enough 🙂