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How To Read Like A Writer

Hello, my friends and fellow bookworms. 🙂

For the most part, writers love to read. They blow through book after book and fill their shelves (while emptying their wallets). It’s such a wonderful thing to get lost in another world…

It’s a good thing we like reading, because it’s very beneficial to the writer.

Before I got serious about writing, I was doing nothing to try to improve my craft. I just wrote because I loved stories, and that’s okay. But I did want to improve. I wanted to be published one day. And that required some serious work.

One summer day in 2017, I was looking back on my old writing. I had a painful realization that the only that improved was my vocabulary. I was using bigger words and longer sentences.

Yay.

That’s not exactly what I’d wanted to see. I was a bit disappointed.

Back then, I was a serious reader, like I am now.

Reading helped me heaps in the way of spelling and wording and all that. But I didn’t know how to read like a writer. It goes a bit deeper than just reading a book. You have to study it and analyze story and characters

After that realization that I needed to be more active in working on my writing, I typed into Google, “How to write a novel.” Oh, boy…I had NO IDEA what wild journey of learning I was about to take. It’s been nearly a year since I became a serious writer, and I have learned so much.

One concept that I knew nothing about before, was story structure. 

And as I read K. M. Weiland’s Structure Your Novel, I was able to notice those elements in structure in the fiction I was reading. I saw how it was used, how it kept my attention by using the strategically placed plot points and events, and how it changed things with the story and characters..

This helped me immensely with my own writing. Knowing how story worked.

Here are some elements in stories that you can look out for in the novels that you read. It helps to not just notice what the author did right, but also what they did wrong and write down what they could’ve done to improve certain aspects.

The hook. What grabbed you and pulled you into the story? When did you really feel like the book caught your attention? The first sentence? Paragraph? Page? Did it hook you at all? What did the author do to grab your attention?

Key/inciting event. What event got the plot moving and thrust the main character into the conflict? Did this event continue to keep your attention on the story?

Midpoint. How did the story keep your attention midway through the book? If it didn’t, why not? What change did the characters go through?

The climax. Did the story keep your attention building up to the climax? Are all the plot threads coming together well? What’s something you might change about the climax and build-up?

The resolution. Did the resolution allow some down-time for you to relax after the climax? Did it feel too short or too long? How well did the author tie off loose ends? Did it leave you with more questions about the story and characters?

Character arc. What kind of arc did the MC have; flat, positive, or negative? Was the MC’s arc/change believable and/or relatable? Did the side characters have arcs too? How did the motives of the characters drive the plot forward?

Theme. What was the theme or message of the story? Did you learn from it? How well did the author make that theme shine through in the characters and plot? Was this a message the world needed to hear?

The characters. Which was your favorite character and why? Who was your least favorite and why? Was the MC relatable and realistic? How did the author make the characters come alive?

The antagonist. Were the antagonist’s motives realistic, maybe even relatable? How did those motives drive the plot forward? Did it feel like the author worked on antagonist’s personality and backstory well? If not, what could’ve been improved?

Of course there are tons of other aspects of story that could be analyzed here, but I just wanted to give a starting point. It’s a good idea to keep a notebook with you when you read, if that’s what works best for your story-analyzing sessions. 🙂

This can apply to movies too. Sometimes it’s easier to sit and watch a two hour movie and analyze it than it is to read a several hundred page book. 😉 These questions can be asked about the movie-world too, but writing a book is different than making a movie. Movies have the advantage of engaging the viewers sight and sound senses, while writing works with the theater of the reader’s mind and imagination. But I find that I learn a lot from movies as well as books.

I hope that you enjoyed this post and that it will help you with your writing improvement in the future. 🙂

 

Read on 😉 ,

Real quick, you all need to check out this amazing blog post Gabrielle did. It is such a good reminder for all of us writers. 

Don’t Let Writing Be Your Identity

 

 


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