What Do You Call a Writer Who Never Reads?

writers who don't read, reading

Oddly enough, there has been quite a debate over on Twitter about what we think about a writer who doesn’t read. In fact, going a bit further, the person who posted the Stephen King quote (below) mentioned she’d even seen blogs via new writers who openly claim they don’t read/don’t like reading.

Before we get into this, though, please understand that I “get” everyone has different life constraints, budgets, and abilities. I know there are people with learning issues because I am one.

“Reading” does not have to be paper. It can be digital or audio or even visual. Long way around saying, if we want to be successful storytellers, then probably a good idea for us to be familiar with STORY.

When I used to run a writing group, we had a member who wanted to be a NYT best-selling author, but he never read.

Ever.

Claimed he was dyslexic. Okay. So I suggested audiobooks. Well, no, he was too ADHD to pay attention. All righty. Then I suggested watching films and studying them, but there weren’t any movies he liked.

Y’all seeing the problem here?

Thus, it was never any surprise that, in all the years he brought pages, they never improved.

EVER.

Reading and Writing

reading, reading improves grammar, reading and writing

Whenever I am reading samples, I can ALWAYS…ALWAYS spot a person who never reads (and usually within a paragraph or two). There are a number of giveaways, but here is a quick list of red flags with N00B written ALL over them.

  1. WAY too much stage direction.
  2. Huge POV issues, usually guilty of head-hopping
  3. Loads of cliches
  4. Shallow/repetitive vocabulary
  5. All characters sound/”talk” the same
  6. Weird tags
  7. Serious pacing problems
  8. No dramatic tension/loaded with melodrama
  9. Super-perfect characters
  10. Flashbacks
  11. Passive voice
  12. Rely heavily on gimmicks (It was a DREAM!)
  13. Material rife with basic grammar and spelling mistakes
  14. Cast too large/loaded with redundant characters
  15. Author clearly DOES NOT understand genre/genre expectations
  16. Overwriting
  17. Major plot problems
  18. Moving/alien body parts (His eyes FLEW across the room. NO! Gets carpet fibers on them!)
  19. No concept how to properly write dialogue (sounds childish and stilted or like cartoon villain monologuing).
  20. Too much telling and too little showing

Writing is like no other profession. We are rooted in magic. Combinations of 26 letters to create entirely new worlds, people, religions, technology that has never existed before?

Puts the spell in spelling.

This said, writing a novel is a LOT like performing a magic show. Reading helps us learn to see where (other master performers) put all the wires and trapdoors that leave audiences stupefied. How do they use the lighting, misdirection, sound effects, or dry ice? We study all this so we can wow audiences when they attend OUR show.

It’s less about the props of the magic show and more about how we put them all together at the end.

Reading Tools

reading, learning

Admittedly, I was taken aback that some writers don’t read. Was even more astonished they were bragging about it. So throwing my two cents worth in.

I won’t take valuable time to list the obvious benefits of authors reading because that should be self-explanatory. What about the less noticeable benefits? And could those corollate with the “success” rates for “non-reading” writers?

This article spells out several ways our brains benefit from reading, and there are at least THREE of these I see as chronic problems for modern authors who don’t read.

Reading Heightens Connectivity

Part of being creative and possessing an amazing imagination is by making associations. Place two seemingly non-related objects or ideas together to come up with something even better.

When I get samples that blow me away? The writer is always, always a prolific reader. Conversely, if the story is flat, dull, and the premise done to death? Plot utterly predictable?

Guarantee the writer doesn’t read.

We need connectivity not only to come up with original story ideas, but to also piece the entire work together (and avoid being predictable). This connectivity is what will keep our story’s momentum when so many others stall out and die.

Even if we are born talented, writing is a skill that demands study if we want to be any good at it. Much like everything else.

Improves Attention Spans

When we have to sit and READ we are also training ourselves to sit and WRITE. Writing is tough because it requires so much focus. If we allow ourselves to get into bad habits of goofing off on social media, channel surfing, etc. we’ll wreck our ability to pay attention.

The only way the book is going to get written is if we put a$$ in seat and DO IT. Then DO IT until it is FINISHED.

Increases Working Memory

For those who have never FINISHED a book or a novel? It is a LOT to keep up with. I’ve never written a book that was under 83,000 words. Don’t you think I probably need to be able to remember what a character said or did earlier and where it is so I can keep the flow of the book going?

The better our working memory, the faster we’ll locate the necessary research, be able to glance at the plot and check all is okay, and the easier it will be to negotiate longer series. We’ll also be able to write a lot faster since we’ll have the information in our heads, and thus need to refer to notes less often.

Why is This a Discussion?

reading, Fight Club

Ultimately, I am curious why this is even a discussion. To me, a writer who doesn’t read is so odd, it’s like thinking about what the number four tastes like.

That said, I’ve heard the “I don’t have time” argument a lot, and it is true. You probably don’t have time. Very few of us do. It is why we have to MAKE TIME.

If you’re like me, and it is a struggle to sit and READ a book, try retraining your ear and listen to audio books. Yes, I have to back the books up and listen multiple times, but perfect is the enemy of the good. When I find a book that is truly remarkable, I buy in paper…then scribble notes all over it.

Not only do I run a business from home, but I homeschool my seventh grade son. It was getting harder and harder to sit down with a book. I finally hit a point where I figured my writing would improve infinitely more if I “imperfectly” read 100 additional books a year than it would if I read nothing.

Ergo audiobooks.

The Entitled Elephant in the Room

I feel it should be fairly obvious why it’s a pretty good idea for writers to read. To reiterate, I understand time constraints, money issues and learning disabilities. This post isn’t about people who have challenges, who have to figure a way to work around obstacles. This is for writers who openly admit/are almost proud they don’t read.

Which ticks me off to no end.

Bear with me.

If we want people (a.k.a. “readers”) to spend their limited spare cash and seriously limited spare time to read OUR books, shouldn’t we extend the same courtesy to our peers?

How easy is it going to be to sell someone on reading our books if WE go around chirping about not reading/not liking to read? Something like 94% of the literate population are not avid readers. What goes through their heads when an AUTHOR claims they don’t like to read?

I read not only to improve my skills, but to support those other authors in the trenches with me. Reading supports my fellow writers by buying, reading and (if I can) reviewing their books. I also support the INDUSTRY I am in, because if no one supports the industry, none of us will have a job.

What are your thoughts?

Does it seem utterly bizarre that a writer wouldn’t also love to read (or at least love stories)? I read every day as part of habit. Instead of listening to music when I do the dishes, I listen to a novel.

For me, reading is much easier with Audible (and no I don’t work for them but maybe I should).

What about you guys? Do you not feel a need to read and I am somehow way off base? Can you tell if a writer isn’t also a reader? Does it seem weird an author wouldn’t also love that which they create?

Do you feel our profession is too often taken as a scratch-off lottery way to get instant fame and riches? What do you feel about books and the profession of writing?

38 comments

Skip to comment form

  1. Weirdly, I made a blog post last night that touches on this issue. A friend asked me how she should go about writing a book, and I told her the first step was reading. Your post makes me feel so smart!!

  2. My husband is a physician who does high-risk procedures every single week. If he went into a meeting with the family of a patient and told them he’d never been to medical school, I think all of us can guess what the family’s reaction would be. So why should we, as writers, take our work any less seriously?

    The interesting thing about the Stephen King quote is the emphasis that everyone puts on the reading part of it, that writers need to read. I don’t think enough non-reading writers focus on the second part of the quote. If a writer doesn’t have time to read, how are they going to have the discipline to write? How are they going to invest the weeks/months/years it takes to create a plot with engaging characters and a winning story? If they can’t do other writers the common courtesy, as you mentioned it, Kristen, of reading their work, why should they expect other writers/authors to support them when the time comes for publication/promotion?

    There are so many avenues and options today for experiencing a story, whether it’s physical books, ebooks, audiobooks, streaming services, etc. There’s absolutely no excuse for a writer to skip out on all of them. If writers expect people in other fields — like medicine — to have spent the years to train and hone their skills, they should be willing to do the same for themselves and their readers.

  3. I recently quit editing for an author who didn’t read. Her manuscript suffered from all the things you mentioned, and her writing never improved. I felt like I was editing the same book over and over again, and after a while I just couldn’t take it anymore. I am not interested in working with authors who refuse to do their part. I tried talking to her about it, but she shut me down, so that was it. I feel sorry for the editor she’s working with now.

  4. I can’t understand this at all. How could you possibly even be a writer and not read? It is our love of reading that inspires most of us to want to write. I have trouble understanding how a person who doesn’t read actually exists! Reading for me is like eating and sleeping, it’s part of life.

    1. She wrote books about wolf shifters. They never shifted. 😉 It was sex sex sex all the time, and it was the *same* sex scene all the freaking time! I’m not kidding. Word for word, no variations at all. Thinking I’d discreetly point out the problem, I sent her my book about a wolf shifter; he shifted and ran in the woods and got caught in a hunter’s trap and played… you get the idea. She never read it. I could tell because her next book in the series still didn’t address the problems, plus she never said, “Nice book. I enjoyed it.” But that was just the start! Repetition like you wouldn’t believe, same recycled characters, everyone sounded alike. Boring, boring, boring. I’m surprised anyone reads her stuff. There is only so much an editor can do, and after 25 or 30 books, I quit trying.

      This author has wonderful stories to tell, but her writing is so poor, she needs a good co-author. I practically rewrote every book. I started to feel I should get an author credit and be sent half the royalties! (Before y’all throw up your arms in dismay, trust me, this author needed extensive help, and she loved what I did to improve her writing.)

    2. Darlene, I so agree with you. What I can’t understand is why someone would want to be a writer if they don’t like reading. Is it for the (slim) possibility of fame and fortune? They see the well known, best-selling writers and don’t realise how many are making not even peanuts.

    • rachel thompson on January 18, 2023 at 11:32 am
    • Reply

    I’m with you on this. I used to read over 100 novels a year and maybe 50 NF, now its a lot of NF and way less fiction. In part, I read a lot less now because I write a lot. On the other side, because I’ve learned so much, I have a hard time reading bad prose. I start way more fiction than I finish.This is a problem. I’ve been revisiting sci-fi classics because I write sci-fi (And other stuff) and I find most of it poorly written. I can’t stand J.K. Rowling’s prose. I got 50 pages in on Harry Potter and had to stop. I tried Brandon Sanders and tripped all over his cliches. Its become hard to enjoy fiction as my internal editor won’t shut up.

    1. I have the same issue which is why I rarely leave reviews. I am an editor so I know where the mirrors and trap doors are, thus it really isn’t fair for me to leave a review unless it is a good one. I’ve actually started reading a LOT of older fiction from the 20th century because a lot of it, frankly, is much better.

  5. LOL I hear ya. Editing has ruined me for reading most books.

  6. Your point on entitlement really struck me. I would NOT want to read a book written by someone who bragged about never reading. Because they wouldn’t get me. They wouldn’t understand what I want from a story. Or if they did, they wouldn’t be able to deliver it.

    For me, I have the problem of buying more books than I will ever read. I have two books on my shelf that I bought from authors at a local writing conference FOUR years ago that I still haven’t read. Do I intend to? Sure, but my TBR pile is large.

    Audiobooks are a genius way to get more reading in. I didn’t think I would be able to listen to them because I’m a FAST reader and they seemed SO SLOW. Now that I listen at 1.75X, I’m enjoying it. This speed is perfect except when the prose is good or I’m listening to NF and want to retain the facts.

    Thanks for another awesome post. Although…I didn’t snort laugh so…:)

  7. This is just crazy talk. I read on my lunch break, because that’s when I have the most time.

  8. A high school classmate of mine and I crossed paths again when he was in dental school. The salutatorian of our class stunned me when he told me that he now did just enough study to graduate. I decided then that he would never be my dentist. Yes, if you would write, you must read

    • Mary Foster on January 18, 2023 at 12:42 pm
    • Reply

    When I started writing over a decade ago, I took the advice of authors I’d heard and started reading. As an art major, my time had been given to drawing and painting, but now I was changing mediums. So I started reading every day. Sometimes I enjoyed the book, sometimes not so much. But even the not-so-much books taught me things like: Why I never want to do THAT.

    Over time — more time than I’d expected — I started acquiring a sense for the flow of story. I felt the beats and could tell what was needed in my writing. One of the most amazing things was learning how to become my characters and let them speak.

    Even though I’ve not reached mastery, it’s incredibly cool to see the dramatic improvement in my writing and know that my skills are still growing. Though writing hasn’t made me physically stronger, it’s like a budding super power and it’s deeply satisfying when you know you’ve done it well. Of course, there are still plenty of times when I’m baffled, but it’s okay. I can learn.

    It’s something like riding a bike. You can hear about theory and listen to others describe it, but you won’t go anywhere until you mount it yourself and start peddling.

    Thank you so much Kristen for your continuing coaching, encouraging, and pointing out all my boring passages!

  9. We limit and confine our writing within a very finite universe if we are not insatiable readers. The broadly educated and avid reader becomes a writer with elevated appeals to a broader range of readers who appreciate the allusions of such a writer. In my own case I appreciate inclusion of references from history, literature and religion and am entertained by original well crafted metaphors.

  10. Hi Kristen – great post and a real grin-maker. :O)
    After a few decades of editing (developmental) and the last one spent primarily with 1st book authors, I can state with some authority (please let me feel important for a second) that writers who don’t read are doomed to spend their writing life at the high school level of creativity. You can pursue education in writing, learn all the rules of story and grammar, and produce material that isn’t unreadable; however, without reading the classics (at the minimum) and within your chosen genre, you will never achieve the passion and joy you desire.

    Sound cruel, harsh? Maybe. But I can say from experience that the creative line too many writers feel they have crossed, where the story propels readers along, drags them into places they never imagined, and they go — never looking back — they have NOT crossed at all. Without reading, they cannot grasp the line between mediocre and brilliant. Without reading they also never achieve a realistic perception of their true ability to reach and cross that line.

    Reading teaches every writer about themselves, as a writer. Those writers who embrace or flaunt their refusal to read are simply waving a flag of pretense, showing the narcissism of their creative views and their lack of respect for the mental prowess required for passionate and invigorating writing.

    I mostly absorb books via Audible since I spend all day reading manuscripts I’m editing on the big screen. After cataract surgery, my sight is less flexible, so I take my daily word juice in decibels. :O) I also read mostly classics, or authors who are outside the genres I edit within.

    Like I said, great post and I can’t imagine what defense is thrown out by non-reading writers. There are always ways to read — and perhaps it would be good to share a book, not in a book club full of opinions, but by reading aloud to someone who can no longer easily do so. Reading aloud causes our minds to absorb the story differently — and what a great way to give the gift of reading to someone else, eh?

      • deborahademola on January 21, 2023 at 9:27 am
      • Reply

      I could not agree more. Even though I always prefer physical books, I think the audiobook revolution has been fantastic for encouraging more book consumption. Author Joanna Penn said on one podcast that one of the reasons for audiobook popularity was a break from staring at screens, which your example seems to validate. And even though I mostly read physical books, I still consume a lot of stories visually by means of film and television series. Like you said, there’s simply no defence for non-reading writers.

  11. Reading is non-negotiable, although when I’m actively working on something I typically read outside my genre and for many years in the news business I tended to only read newspapers, magazines, and re-read comfortable old familiars. That made it hell when it came time to figure out comps. That’s another key reason to read—how will you find comps if you don’t know what’s out there? My TBR pile is high but needs to grow because I need to bring my reading list up to current in my genre and literary fiction in general. I am not sad about needing to read more books. This is a wonderful “problem” to have.

  12. I once had an author tell me I read too much. That until I pulled back from reading other people’s work, I’d never find my own voice as an author. That admonition remained in my head until I actually started writing in earnest. I discovered that my own writing was enriched by taking “reading breaks,” when I filled my mind with someone else’s characters and dialogue.

    1. Oh I have no problem with a reading BREAK because that implies you READ. I do feel reading can become “productive procrastination” like “research.” Are both necessary? Of course! Can we go too far and not WRITE? Sure.

    • Diane Burton on January 18, 2023 at 2:06 pm
    • Reply

    My first thought when I read some authors don’t read is what you mentioned–how can I expect someone to buy my books if I distain reading myself? Not enough time to read? We make time for what we want to do. As always, I enjoyed your post.

  13. I confess to not being on social media much, except for FB, so I have missed this debate/discussion. Personally, I read in bed nearly every night. It’s my “fill up my cup” time. I read in the genre I write, historical romance, to be inspired by other writers and because I like that genre or I never would have started writing it. And then I read anything else as brain candy to relax because reading histrom sometimes feels like work. I cannot imagine not reading and still being a capable writer. Thanks for a great post.

    • Gary S. Weiner on January 18, 2023 at 2:49 pm
    • Reply

    I must confess, I am a horrible reader. Perhaps due to the fact that , as a child, learning to read I was taught to pronounce each word out loud. Then again, I listened to an endless array of lectures and numerous textbooks through my advanced college education spanning 9 years. Still undaunted I expressed my creativity writing poetry and two novels. However, you are correct; reading others’ works is surely productive.

    1. Well, to be fair, I am a horrible reader too. I have 20/400 vision close up and an astigmatism so I am constantly losing my place. THAT is why I listen to books and study movies more than I read paper books.

        • rachel thompson on January 19, 2023 at 12:12 pm
        • Reply

        I had a different issues as a reader. I taught myself how to sight-read before first grade. Thus, I can’t spell to save my butt. I never learned phonics or the rules of how words are put together. It was a long hard pull to catch up and I still can’t spell. That’s why I hire proofreaders. It is good to know one’s limits so we can figure out how to work around them.

  14. Couldn’t agree more!

  15. Rachel, I am with you on this. The more I’ve learned about writing, the more difficult I find it to read. I find myself ‘correcting’ bad writing on my tablet.
    When I write a review, I have sections on characters, plot, etc, but a separate section on the writing. I will state that it was a good story, but that there are grammatical, spelling, typo errors etc.
    Some people won’t worry; they just want a good story. But it warns those who it will annoy.

  16. I can’t imagine a better way to becoming a good writer than copious reading. I’ll sometimes get emotionally involved in a book and then look back over the last few pages to learn just how the author did that. What a great learning tool and pleasant way to spend my time!

  17. I don’t see how anyone can become a writer without first reading. I have been an avid reader all my life and can’t imagine a world with no books or stories to entertain me. If I know an author doesn’t read but has a book he/she expects others to read, I will walk a mile around that. It may be the best story in the world, but I can’t support an author who does not read. I agree with Stephen King!

      • deborahademola on January 21, 2023 at 9:40 am
      • Reply

      I love reading authors discussing how they got into writing, and I see the same thing over and over again: they LOVE to read. And I love seeing that, because it’s exactly why I write, too. I can relate to any author, famous or not famous, rich or poor, who cannot get their nose out of a book. I assumed that was normal.

  18. I’ve been seeing a lot about AI [neural networks] learning to write and how this will put human writers out of work.Curiously, AI learn by being exposed to almost limitless data – i.e. they ‘read’. I guess in the future the trick will be to pick the bad human writing from the generic AI writing. Interesting times.

    1. If writers keep being this lazy they don’t deserve a job. Great point though! Lovely to see you! ((HUGS))

  19. I binge read then write. Binge read, write. Rinse and repeat. The things I’ve seen when writers don’t read… the craft has to be learned and oft the best teachers are other (well-written) writers. We’re all busy. There’s no excuse to call oneself a writer and figure reading was too time consuming etc.

    And as for AI? I can see it coming.

    And … riches and fame? lolololololol. I actually had a guy say (coz I had 1 book published at the time) ‘wow you must be really rich.’ MMMMM no. Even the big publishing houses offer a dime on the dollar (not all, but many). So, folks who think it’s just sitting down and writing have ‘no’ clue. I was leaving the hospital and the guy rolling me out said his wife had a great idea to write but *continues on in excuses for her,* and I said, have her start now, and have her read now. Not. That. Complicated.

    • deborahademola on January 21, 2023 at 9:24 am
    • Reply

    May I suggest that the (in my view) obscene pride in not reading stems from a general and catastrophic decline in the quality of public education? This seems to be the case on my side of the Atlantic (the United Kingdom)– both the decline in reading and the decline in public education.

    Also, the claim about budgets preventing or even just limiting reading simply doesn’t hold water. In an age of Amazon, Gutenberg, OpenCulture, and so on, there’s no reason why anyone cannot become a voracious reader at very little cost. I personally prefer physical books, but I too have budget and space constraints, so I was delighted to learn, for example, that Gutenberg has the complete works of William Shakespeare available online… for free. I can also borrow books from public libraries, which is a great way of financially supporting authors on a limited budget. All those pennies in royalties eventually add up.

    So I really don’t have much patience for the “I don’t have time/money/etc.” to read.

    The learning or physical disability issue is now easily served by the promotion of audiobooks, books with large print, illustrated books, e-books, and the dominance of film and television series.

    Simply put, there is no excuse not to read, whether to become a writer or just as a life skill. And for someone to call themselves a writer yet brag about not reading demonstrates a contemptible lack of respect for the writing profession and its customers. Let such “writers” try this in any other profession and see how quickly they would be laughed out of court. Can you be a lawyer who never readers? An engineer who never reads? A teacher who never reads? I could go on.

    Again, what I see in this is the natural consequence of a devalued education system. I am sure that other factors are at play here, but this to me seems fundamental. If the education many have received isn’t good enough, the consequneces will show int he quality of work produced and the attitude to learning.

    Look at the dialogue tag issue, for example. It’s something that should be taught in primary school, yet adult writers are failing to use this punctuation correctly. (I read a lot of fanfiction, which is rife with these and other errors.) None of us are perfect; I could give you a whole list of my grammar and punctuation howlers. (Still struggling to differentiate between semicolons and colons…) But I try to improve those all… by reading, which motivates me to write more and improve.

    Long story short: I find this anti-reading craze indefensible.

    • deborahademola on January 21, 2023 at 9:39 am
    • Reply

    All right, so I am not the only one who has this problem. I would never call myself an accomplished writer, nor am I a grammarian (of English). But I am a spelling fanatic, a grammar lover, a punctuation cult follower, a lover of foreign languages, and someone who is (consequently) hyper-critical of prose. (By contrast, I feel like a novice with story structure, pacing, and the big-picture issues, hence why I learn by READING!)

    I love the Harry Potter series for its characters, but I agree with you about J.K. Rowling’s prose. I find myself mentally correcting a lot of sentences inside books or online stories, and that throws me out of the reading experience– even if the story itself good. I consume a lot of fanfiction at present, and the amount of juvenile writing makes me want to pound a wall to shreds. That’s not really fair, so I decided to follow Kristen Lamb’s example and avoid leaving a review on eiter books or stories unless I had a generally positive comment.

    So I have turned to reading more classics, as I am woefully unread in those (thank you, British state school system!). I also read a LOT of non-fiction books now, as it seems the quality of writing is much better. It might just be me, but I’ve been copying out passages from nonfiction books that I want to use in my fictional writing. I’ve got a MARVELLOUS book on the Vikings which has made me want to ignore everything else on this planet; I’ve got a marvellous biography of the actor Yul Brynner, which again made me copy out sections because I love Rock Brynner’s prose.

    Basically, the test is that I should not be mentally analysing whether a sentence sounds right while reading. The writing quality should be so flawless that I get lost in the story. A high bar, of course. I certainly have not reached it, LOL! But it’s reading that makes me aspire to that level. I cannot understand what non-reading writers are aspiring to.

  20. I can’t imagine how you even get to the point of thinking you have a story to tell if you never read. Reading is why I write. I grew up consuming books like they were candy. I don’t have as much time to read as I used to, but I always make a little time every day. I lay my love for writing at the feet of all the authors I have read (and my mom, who inspired my reading). I owe every one of those authors for opening my eyes to great stories and teaching me how they are made. None of the classes or seminars I’ve taken have taught me half as much about writing a good story as reading them has.

  21. New visitor. Hoping to make this the year I write (more). Definitely a reader over here, although having discovered Audible books, I prefer listening over reading because I can do so on walks, while cleaning house, driving in the car. I am a retired librarian. Have been substitute teaching at my granddaughter’s school. Had a little first grader tell me she doesn’t read…then followed that up by saying she’s dyslexic. And proceeded to ask to go to the nurse every fifteen minutes after that. I felt sorry for her but she is already finding excuses, making excuses for not reading. In first grade.

  22. My love for writing began with a love for reading, long before I began writing.

  23. I couldn’t agree with you more, Kristen. Especially this sentence: “This is for writers who openly admit/are almost proud they don’t read.” I would extend that to PEOPLE who are proud of not reading. I worked with this woman years ago who never read and was proud of it. She was one of the nastiest, most ignorant, and close-minded people I’ve ever met. I am sympathetic to people who honestly don’t have time to read (like a single parent working multiple jobs to support their kids, for example). People who can read and choose not to really irk me, though.

I LOVE hearing your thoughts!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.