Riding the Learning Curve

Thursday, January 10, 2008
Last year, when I started writing, I had no idea how much work it would be. Yes, I knew I'd be doing a lot of writing and rewriting. And yes, I knew that there would be a lot of research involved. What I did not anticipate was the amount of outside reading that being a writer would require from me. I quickly realized that pleasure reading, though beneficial, was not enough to help me grow as a writer. I had to learn how to analyze a story's structure.

Analyzing the work of your favorite authors can be fun and add value to your own writing. To get started, choose several books from you target genre, preferably books that you've read before. Make sure they are well written and enjoyable reads. Considering your strengths and weaknesses as a writer, make a list of the techniques that you want to analyze.

Here are several ideas that can get you started.

  • Various ways the writer hooks the reader in at the beginning of the story, article, and/or chapter.

  • Dialogue that sounds authentic to the character but also reveals more about the character - attitude, intentions, etc.

  • Novel and interesting usage of figurative language. What works and why does it work?Transitions into and out of scenes, how to move the action along in general.

  • How the author begins/ends a chapter, article, short story.

  • How do the subplots support the story?

  • Effective or ineffective use of literary techniques, i.e. forshadowing, flashbacks, etc.

  • How does the protagonist change throughout the story?

  • What is the story's arc?

  • How the author shows, not tells emotion.

Don't be afraid to write several paragraphs, if need be, to describe how the author achieves any any of the techniques on your list. Its also a good idea to rewrite any weak sections you may notice during your reading. By keeping your notes in a journal, you'll be able to refer to them later and one day, you may be glad that you went the extra mile.

Kesha Grant


Anonymous said...

Sometimes it's these very things that make me not lose myself in the story as much as I'd like. Now I find myself analyzing almost everything, lol! At times, I just want to be a reader.

Anonymous said...

wow. I just posted about using master author's works to help with your word selection this morning! Weird! At writersunbound.com

:) Allena

Marcia Peterson said...

I've done this with non-fiction too. It's helpful - though, as mentioned, can take the fun out of reading.

A helpful post!

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