Monday, May 15, 2017

A Writer's Homework

The poster for today features books. Those of us who are avid readers love books. Those of us who are writers also love books. Readers read books. That's a given. But writers write and read books. That's a given, too.

Or is it? If not, if should be. If you want to write books, it will be to your benefit to read and read and read books written by others. Not to mimic another author's style. You want and need your own. You should read other authors to learn a lot of things that a person writing a book should know. As you read, be conscious of more than the story itself. 

Ask yourself how the writer hooked you. Check to see how dialogue is used, how much and how useful it is in moving the story along. Consider the numbers of adjectives and adverbs. Too many? Too few? What is the description like? Too long? Just right? 

Did the writer hold your interest with a few twists and turns, or a surprise of some sort? Did the book become a page turner for you? Why or why not? Did the ending live up to what was promised at the beginning of the book? Was the ending strong or rather weak?

These and other 'writerly things' should be in the back of your mind as you read and (hopefully) enjoy the story. The more you read, the longer your list of things you don't want to do and those that you would like to include in your own book. 

No one expects you to read a novel with pen and paper by your side, jotting down notes as you go. The more we write, the more we read with the writer's eye. Writers notice much more than a reader who has never written. We store a great deal in our subconscious. We soak it up as we read.

I recently finished a book that my book club read for April. It relied heavily on dialogue rather than narrative. The author got the story across quite well but, at times, I found myself tiring of the constant rat-a-tat-tat of words being hurled back and forth. For me, it was overdone. Forevermore, I will be conscious of using too much dialgoue when I write a story. That style may have been fine for that particular author but not for all readers. 

If I read a book that is filled with lengthy descriptions that I end up skipping sometimes, I am going to be aware that I need to keep my descriptions to a minimum. Show it but don't keep growing it! 

We learn the craft of writing from books about writing, from lectures we attend at conferences but we also acquire a great deal of information about our craft through the joyous act of reading books. Make time for reading. Consider it a writer's homework And enjoy! 

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