What happens when you read a story?
The thrill of being transported to an enchanted kingdom, the awe of being a princess, the adventures on the ridged back of a dragon and the gnawing fear before the book ends – an exhilarating journey indeed.
To be a writer, even an insipid one lacking the courage to paint true reality or the imagination to create a whole new world should read avidly.
A good book is the best writing institute, but one needs to understand how to read like a writer.
‘There is a difference’? One might ask. Yes. There definitely is.
A reader, even a thoughtful one who tries to understand not just the story but the context, theme and the underlying emotional undercurrents also looks predominantly into WHAT the writer is saying.
But as aspiring writers, we need to use a good book like a reference. To read like a writer is to move away from WHAT and towards, HOW the writer captures the story.
Now as a reader, one will question the genre of the story, infer the characters by the action in the book, feel the emotion, connect with the characters and evaluate if the story is well enough to continue reading till the end.
While a writer needs to approach a book from a completely different angle. When reading like a writer, pay attention to –
- Ideas – Look into the main idea of the book. How does he reveal it? Is it stated or implied? Look into the theme of the story. For e.g; Pride, family, prejudice, woman and marriage, society and class are the theme present in Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”.
- Organization – this refers to how the writer moves between these ideas. How does he build his characters, plot and setting around these themes. Here the writer learns pacing, sequencing and detailing. Compare a thriller and a drama for better understanding.
Part 2 of this series will conclude the other points of reading like a writer.
- Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose (bluesyemre.com)
- How to Read Like a Writer (brainpickings.org)