All great writers started as book lovers.
The books they read determined their future and impacted their writers’ style.
For the luckiest of them, the writer’s career was an instinctive way; the only way, if you will. For others, the majority, this path was a conscious choice; a goal. So, to achieve it they worked harder and used their main tools — writing and reading — wisely.
If you’re the last one, let’s talk about the ways of reading that will help to raise your writing to a whole new level.
Reading a book has to be fun and engrossing, but it doesn’t mean you can’t break it into the parts and analyse it. Question everything. Why did the author indue the characters with such traits? Why did they begin to tell the story in such a way? How did the writer express the idea of the novel? What hooks did the author use to catch the reader’s attention?
Make these things clear to yourself, so later you can apply it to your writing.
2. Catch the words.
Pay attention to the words the writers use to describe different feelings and emotions. Notice how they mix them in every paragraph and sentence. Note the good expressions, the bright metaphors. Underline them, make bookmarks. It will be your source of inspiration someday.
Besides, underlining or writing them down, you are rethinking their meaning and creating new connotations in your mind.
3. Absorb it.
Focus not just on style, but structure, formatting, grammar. Take a look at these elements as an editor. Criticise.
Read the books where there are no punctuation marks. Feel, how it changes the pace, how it involves the reader into the process of creating the story. Try to guess, what was the author’s main purpose. Participate.
4. Take notice of your reaction.
What impression did the book make? How do you feel having read the last sentence? Do you feel lost? Motivated? What made you feel so? Find the reasons.
Ask yourself, is that the emotion the author wanted to provoke in the reader or not?
Spot what hindered them to convey the idea correctly.
These findings will help you to fight with your own fallacies and save you from being misread.
5. Make notes.
Don’t treat a book you read only as literature for pleasure. Treat it as a textbook. Grab a pencil and use it wherever you catch vivid expression, thrilling plot twist or something that inspires you.
Write a brief retelling of every chapter, describe your feelings, compare your expectations and the reality.
This way, you won’t forget the plot of the novel as well as your reaction to it and would use the connection of these elements to create your own book.
6. Read different books (including bad ones).
Reading a great book gives writers inspiration, the material to improve their writing, it helps them to add a sparkle to own style. Qualitative literature is an example to follow; a direction.
However, to keep to it, we need to understand which direction is wrong — to not turn to it at a crossroads. For that, we have to read bad books. No, you needn’t look for a low-grade novel on purpose, but if you start reading one, do not stop. Finish it. Pass it through yourself and try to realize what makes it bad. The style? The vocabulary? The plot? What is wrong with them?
Make your Wrong list. It will be your compass when you will lack ideas and decide to experiment.
Time changes us. We start looking at things differently. We get a new perspective.
Use this peculiarity to catch new shadows in the book you’ve already read. Try to refresh in mind your impression from the first time. Compare it to the last one. There will be a huge difference, and it is great! It means you grew and thus can take a fresh look on what you’ve written with new experience.
Also, check your old notes. Are they still topical for you? Or now you pay attention to other details? Explore your writing discovering the younger version of you.
8. Discuss with the friends.
No matter how wonderful your book is, the readers decide if it is good. So, get familiar with the others’ opinion. Start with your friends.
Discuss the books you both have read. Listen what emotions the book provoked in your friends; what they like and what they dislike; what the book is missing, etc. Make your suggestions and be attentive to how they take them.
These findings will be your lighthouses in the sea of guesses and uncertainty.
9. Enjoy the reading.
Do not lose the main idea — reading is about joy. So, if you’re tired of analyzing and the book is no more a way to have a rest for you, stop learning. Ignore the analysis. Let the book lead you away.
Stay a book lover. This is what you’ve started with and what should never change.