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  • Writer's pictureToni

Learn Writing by Reading: Introduction

Updated: Sep 23, 2021

Welcome to the blog’s first-ever post series!

Every week in September, there will be a new post about how you can learn to be a better writer just by reading the same books you always read. As new posts go up, I’ll add the links for them below so you can navigate quickly through the series.

To kick us off, here’s a little introduction!

As you’ve probably heard many times before, both reading a lot and writing a lot are key to becoming a better writer. What you might not have known before, though, is that just reading passively, without thinking much about the books you’re reading, is not the most efficient way to use your reading time.

Now don’t get me wrong—reading passively works, too! You do naturally absorb a lot of story elements just by experiencing a lot of stories, and if that’s working for you, then keep at it! But there’s a quicker way, a more mindful way, to get the most out of your reading sessions.

Image text: You get to participate in a bite-size apprenticeship every time you crack open a new novel. | Edits by Toni

In this series of posts, I’ll be teaching you different ways of reading actively, analyzing the books you’re reading from a writer’s perspective so you can use what you’ve learned more mindfully. After all, every book you read is like a mini master class.

This series is not about craft books, though. (But I do have some craft book reviews on the blog, if you’re interested!) Instead, you’ll use books you already like, whether that’s old, oft-reread favorites or new-to-you novels in your best-loved genres. Because there’s a big difference between having the author tell us explicitly what we should or shouldn’t do and watching an author execute it within an actual story.

Now, I will warn you, this is going to ruin the reading experience a bit in the beginning. And of course it will! After all, we’re meant to be totally absorbed into stories, usually, not pausing to analyze every choice an author makes in the telling.

However, as your observation skills improve, you’ll find that you come full circle and begin to both be absorbed in stories and analyze them at the same time, and your reading enjoyment will come back full force! (Though your tolerance for less-than-stellar writing may go down a bit.) In fact, because you are a writer and understand how difficult some aspects of the craft are, you’ll start to enjoy well-told stories even more than before.

As we move forward into the rest of the series, I encourage you to be openminded about the books you’re choosing to analyze. You might find it useful to reread some favorites, or you may find it even more useful to read something totally new. You may want to spend time reading within the genre you’re writing (especially if you’re new to the genre), but you may also find it helpful to step outside the genre you’re writing and see how authors in other genres handle certain aspects of story. I honestly recommend doing all of the above, as each type of book will help you in a different way.

Image text: Mixing and matching techniques and conventions from multiple genres will help you discover and develop your own unique writing style. | Edits by Toni

Now, with all of that said, I’ll see you next week for the next part of the series: Likes & Dislikes! Stay tuned!

And as always, you can email me with any questions you might have about editing or about these posts: Happy reading!


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