Read like a writer – Part 2

In the earlier part ‘To read like a writer’ I discussed how a writer should look for the theme and organization of a story. Let us continue this journey.

Let us strip writing to its bare bones, down past the genre, idea, theme or audience to study them at word, phrase and sentence level. A set of well chosen, well placed words create a sense of magic within the book. Look for the patterns in the language, the passion in the character, the striking adjectives. Look for;

Voice – It is the individual writing style of the author. The quality that makes writing unique. When reading like a writer, let us try to answer questions like ‘How does the author demonstrate the emotions of the protagonist’? Or how does he bring out the personality of the character? Now Wodehouse wrote in humor, using a unique blend of slang and elegant, classically-informed drawing-room English. Roald Dahl on the other is known for the devilish twists in his story.


Word Choice – What words and phrases does the author use to bring across the story? How does the author use striking adjectives, verbs, proper nouns? Evena simple ‘and’ in a sentence ‘And then he fell down dead’ creates the required impact.  Do these word choices make the story more memorable?

Sentence Fluency – the rhythem and flow of the sentence as we read it, is there a rhyme? Do the repeat in pattern? Repeating sentence structures, like

Night in the Country (1986) by Cynthia Rylant: “There are owls. Great owls with marble eyes who swoop among the trees and are not afraid of night in the country. Night birds. There are frogs. Night frogs who sing songs for you every night: reek reek reek reek. Night songs”

Conventions – Conventions are the usage of grammar, spelling and other such things that make writing consistent. Does the author follow convention in writing? Do you newer words like blacksurround, magicated etc? Are the sentence complete? Are there artful fragments and one word sentences?

The next time you read a book, pick up your pen and read like a writer.