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Posts tagged ‘reading practice’

Three highlights from my reading practice: See how they could make you a better writer

I love the inspiration and ideas I receive from reading different genres and authors. Whether I’m turning the pages of a physical book or one on my Kindle or iPad, I write about what I’m reading.

Sticky notes work great for actual books, and on my Kindle, I highlight and make notes on the screen about passages that grab my attention. I track how authors created a certain mood, tone, or emotional response. If I see a good example of dialogue or a stellar sensory description, I note it. The notes make it easy to go back and review what I learned and what I enjoyed about the book.

Here are several examples of my highlights:

In the thriller Third Strike by Zoe Sharp, the protagonist Charlie Fox suffers the blow of being shocked by a stun gun. I was struck myself by the description of Charlie’s reaction:

The pain had a jagged quality all its own, ripping out chunks of my nervous system and spinning them away like debris from an explosion, so that some parts of my mind seemed magnified a hundred times and others were just big blank holes of frenzied nothingness. Next thing I knew I was on the floor, my body rigid. I was peripherally aware that my head was banging on the concrete and that was probably not a good thing, but I couldn’t stop the twitching dance of my limbs. My hands had distorted into the twisted claws of an arthritis-ravaged geriatric. I couldn’t see, couldn’t breathe. It was the worst cramp I’d ever had in my life, the most violent fever, the meanest hangover, all rolled into one.

Sharp not only wrote a vivid description, I felt the authority of her words. Her description seemed so realistic and rang so true that I almost wondered if she’d been shocked herself at some point by a stun gun. Read more

Read well to write well

You’ve probably heard it before. To write well, you must read. Reading excellent literature will inspire you (even if the style or genre is different than what you write). It’s part of the magic of writing. Somehow, something you read sparks a connection in your subconscious.

Reading critically helps you analyze other writers’ techniques and see how you might apply them in your own unique way. If you recognize meaning and nuance in other writing, you’ll be more aware of how to create those moments in your own.

These tips will help you make the most of your “reading practice.”
1. Adopt an analytical mindset. Go into your reading session with a different frame of mind than when you sit down to read for pleasure — not that this type of reading isn’t pleasurable. I find reading even more rewarding when I make a new connection or experience a flash of discovery.
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