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How to Read Like a Writer

Updated on May 2, 2013
You don't have to like the book you choose to read like a writer and you can always choose to read as many as you like for this purpose.
You don't have to like the book you choose to read like a writer and you can always choose to read as many as you like for this purpose. | Source

Book Writing Tips

Not all readers are writers, even though every writer should have at least a little bit of the reader inside of them in order to be successful. Almost every article or book out there on writing tips tells us that we must read in order to improve writing. What they forget to mention is that, in order for this advice to take full effect, you must read like a writer to gain that useful knowledge hidden between the lines.

Whether you studied literature, like myself, or have taken a literature class or two, you know what it means to read like a writer. The most basic component of this exercise is to read in order to analyze and dissect the book you have chosen, rather than read for pleasure. Here are five basic tips to reading like a writer so that you can learn from what you read and take those skills with you into your own writing.

A pen and notebook are essential to good note taking while you read like a writer.
A pen and notebook are essential to good note taking while you read like a writer. | Source

Reading to Improve Writing

Have you ever read a book in order to improve your own writing?

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Read Like a Writer

Before you begin reading like a writer, it is important to take a good look at the book from the outside. Read the reviews that may be on its cover and take special note of the summary that is provided. You will also want to read this summary after reading the novel because it will provide insight for you to create your own summary for your novel, which is essential when it comes to impressing publishers.

Remember that, in order to properly read like a writer, you must take every piece of the novel you are reading and recognize what you will or will not want to use in your own writing. Don't be afraid to reread the book or read a couple of books in this manner in order to get the best idea of what you want in your own writing and how to get those thoughts organized enough to create a book of your own.

1. Get Pen and Paper Ready

In order to get the most out of your reading, you must be prepared to engage the text much more seriously than you would with your everyday reading. To read like a writer, have a pen and highlighter handy to take apart the text as you read. You want to use these tools to take note of any parts of the text that stick out to you, whether it is something you particularly enjoyed or something you did not like at all.

Highlighting, underlining, using sticky notes and tabs, or writing notes in the margins makes it easier to get back to those parts of the novel when you are finished reading and take better note of what you would want in your own writing based on this author's work.

2. Don't Be Afraid to Recognize Flaws

If you have chosen to read your favorite novel and/or author as a writer rather than a fan, remember that every writer has flaws. You won't learn anything from what you are reading if you aren't at least a little bit critical. To read like a writer, you want to make sure and recognize those parts of the novel that work for you as well as those that don't. This can help you develop your voice as you determine what you value most in a piece of writing.

Once you have found what you like and don't like, make sure and examine exactly why you feel this way. Even if you hated the entire novel, you can learn from it only if you recognize just why you hated it and how this can help you write your own novel that outshines that one.

3. Dissect the Novel

When you read like a writer, it is important to also note how the author takes the story from beginning to end, keeping your interest going while making it all flow together into one cohesive piece. Sketching out a diagram or outline of the novel can be really helpful and give you clues into how you might plan out your own book when it comes time for you to finally sit down and write.

Furthermore, taking each character (or just one or two) and creating character profiles can really help you understand how to develop characters for your own novel down the line.

4. Talk About it

Talking to others who have read the book, especially if they liked it even though you did not (or vice versa), can help give you insight into other perspectives on the book you have chosen to read like a writer. Knowing what others may like or dislike in a piece of writing may further your knowledge into what you would like to include in your own writing or what you would want to improve.

5. Research it

Taking a look at reviews online can be just as useful as talking about it with a friend. Research is especially handy when you don't know anyone who has read the book. Take a look at Amazon or personal blogs where reviewers have given positive and negative reviews to get an idea of what really works for the novel and what does not.

Writing Benefits of Reading

Overall, it is not difficult to understand how to read like a writer. As long as you read with the purpose of improving your own writing or understanding how to write a novel of your own, you are on the right track. There are many benefits to reading. As a writer, reading like a writer is the best way to learn from the pros before putting together your own book.

© 2013 Lisa

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