READ LIKE A WRITER
If you want to be a writer, I think you'll agree: Reading is important. For all the idealogical reasons you've heard a thousand times before, people will be better versions of themselves if they read. But if you are a writer or a want-to-be-writer, it is even more important. Than what? Than everything. Don't believe me? Take his word for it:
“If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” STEPHEN KING
Reading is a writer's best teacher. With that in mind, here are a few hints on how to get the most out of the next book you read.
Make reading your job
With practice, critical reading will become second nature. Until it does, it will seem like work. At first, you should separate reading for enjoyment from reading for education. Also, choose stories that you know well, and love to read. It will make work seem less like work, and it will be easier to put your finger on the things that you really love about the writing. Before you sit down to reread your favourite books, imagine you are interviewing the author, trying to discover why and how they wrote the book the way they did.
Because I write and read fiction, my questions naturally focus on characters and setting, narrative style, and dialogue. I pay particular attention to beginnings and endings. Why did the story start at that moment, and not another? Why is the story over now?
As you begin, do your best to read critically at least once a week. You don't have to read Ulysses to be a serious reader. Short stories, magazine articles, cereal boxes. They are all trying to communicate something to you. The questions you must ask if you want to improve your own writing are :
It is easy to be a genre snob, but don't ever turn away great writing. We learn from people who are experts in our field, yes, but we also have a great deal to learn from people who do things differently than we normally would.
Also, read everything. I know this seems like repetition, but what I mean this time is that you should use your interrogative mind all the time. Books are not the only thing we can or should be reading. Movies and television and songs--somebody wrote them, so it follows that you should read them too. This is critical analysis though, don't forget, not an excuse to binge-watch Downton or Game of Thrones.
For More on this Topic --
Author Interviews from:
Writers and Company with Eleanor Wachtel
The Paris Review
Authors on Reading
Another NPR series, You Must Read This: books recommended by authors
Ten Famous Writers on How to Read
Books about Reading Books
How to Read a Book, by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles van Doren
Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Like Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them, by Francine Prose
How Fiction Works, By James Wood
Why I Read: The Serious Pleasure of Books, by Wendy Lesser
Next time In The Workshop: Easy Fixes
Erin Bedford, writer.