How to Read Like a Writer
January 29, 2012
It may sound like stating the obvious, but to develop as a writer, one needs to read, read, read. As writers, we need to know the marketplace, particularly the genres in which we write. We can also learn writing techniques and improve our own writing by analyzing what works – and what doesn’t – in the books we read.
To get the most out of your reading, here are a few tips:
- Form your own opinion.
Try to approach a book with an open mind. Although you may chose to read a particular book because of a review or word-of-mouth recommendation, try to set aside the opinions of others and determine your own opinion of how well the books works.
- Read for pleasure.
Don’t take notes or mark passages when you read a book for the first time. Simply enjoy the ride that the author has created. You can analyze later. With a well-written book, you’ll be compelled to experience the characters’ emotions, and all thoughts of analysis will be banished.
- Monitor your reactions.
After you read a book, consider how engaged you were when reading. Where was the greatest energy? Where did your interest fade? Monitoring your reactions will help you determine how well the book met it’s goal of satisfying the reader.
- Analyze your reactions.
Ask yourself why it works – or doesn’t. How could it be improved? You may even want to discuss the book with others, or consider the opinions expressed in reviews. How do others view the book differently?
- Read it again.
When a book evokes a strong reaction from you, read it more than once. On a second reading, you will likely discover aspects of the story that you didn’t notice the first time. You can also evaluate the details of the story – character, structure, plot, dialogue, and so on.
- Pitch the book.
If you had to sell this book to a reader, how would you do it? Try to write a one-sentence synopsis of the story that would compel someone else to read it. Your sentence should answer the question, “What is the story?”