Learning To Read Like a Writer

(This post began as a comment on this post, but ended up long enough to be a post of its own.)

Writers talk about reading like a writer, analyzing the work of others for plot structure and character development, etc, to improve their craft. Though I’m trying to learn to be a good writer and improve my craft, I have yet to learn to ‘read like a writer’ and analyze the writing to learn from it. I decided I’d find a really good book and re-read it, trying to read like a writer. I don’t think I could ever read a book analytically the first time through. That kinda seems hypocritical in a way: distancing myself from a story I’m reading to analyze it when I’m supposed to be writing stories which draw the reader in. It just doesn’t seem right.

I read some people talk about analyzing the books that don’t draw them in and get them caught up in the story, but I don’t think those books would be worth analyzing. Besides, I get caught up in stories easily. There are occational times as I’m reading when I find something in the story hard to believe (which is a sign of bad writing), but even then I can almost always forgive the writer and get back into the story pretty easily. Another mentioned analyzing the books that “hit it big”. Humph. I don’t care about books that hit it big. I care about books that hit me big.

Anyway, I’ve pretty much decided on Dandelion Fire by N.D. Wilson to reread for this purpose (and probably The Chestnut King -the book that comes after it, but I haven’t finished reading it the first time yet). Recently, I also read Ender’s Shadow, which turned out to be unexpectedly good (getting a rare 5/5 rating from me on Goodreads.com), but it isn’t in my genre. Maybe I’ll reread it later, but I wanted to start with something in my genre.


About David A Justiss

a fantasy novelist.
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2 Responses to Learning To Read Like a Writer

  1. Wow! I’m really glad I wrote that post because it seems to have sparked some real, good discussion. I’m also happy that it inspired you to try that. Even if you end up not liking that method, at least you tried something new and can learn from it. Let me know how it goes.

  2. @Lisa Actually, I had planned on doing this before reading your post, but your post gave me a reminder after the plan had been neglected for awhile. I’m confident that I can learn to read as a writer if I try (having the self-discapline to take the time to try is the hard part), and that I’ll still be able to read (mostly) without the analyzing when I want to.

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