Thursday, February 21, 2019

Reading Critically: Grow as a Writer

I am blessed to attend a critique group twice a month with two multi-published, award-winning authors. They take turns sharing words of wisdom about the craft of writing at the beginning of our sessions. This week the topic was on reading to improve your craft, given by the incredible Lynne Gentry. While I knew it was important to read, the tips given opened my eyes to how I can grow as a critical reader. I thought I'd share a few with you.

  1. Read outside of your genre. When you always read the same genre, it is easy to gloss over that unique turn of phrase, the pacing of story, etc. Reading something new makes it easier to see new things that can up your own writing.
  2. Read to find out what you DON'T want to do in your writing. Let's face it. Not everything in a book grabs our attention. Pay attention to what you skim over and make sure you don't do that particular thing in your own story.
  3. When you start to "feel" something, take notice. When your heart races, when you heave a sigh, when you get angry...these are the things that should make you sit up and take notes. What did the author do to inspire such feeling? Whatever it was, incorporate that type of writing in your own story. 
These are just a few ways to grow in reading critically. Can you think of anything to add to the list? What things do you look for while reading to learn?

Sherrinda Ketchersid is a born and bred Texan, preacher’s wife, mother of 4 children, and works part-time as a bookseller at Amazon. With the children grown and out of the house, she weaves tales of fierce knights and their ladies in a time where men were warriors and women had to be strong enough to keep them in check.

After taking time off from writing, she has returned with a new motto in place to spur her on. “Writers write. Everyone else makes excuses.” ~Jack Bickham.  No excuses this time. She is weaving her love of romance with history to bring joy and the hope of love to those who may one day read her stories. Her first book, Lord of Her Heart, releases May 2019.

You can connect with her through:
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Twitter: @sherrinda


kaybee said...

Good morning Sherrinda! I'm reading a lot right now because it's winter in New England. Trying to read critically, but find I become lost in a story if the author is doing his or her job, and I get sucked up into that world. But then, when I come out of it, I go back and see just what god me so absorbed. So there's that.
If I read something that's poorly done or mediocre, it inspires me because I think I can do better. If I read something that's REALLY GOOD, it depends on the day. If I'm not feeling so good about my own work I wonder how I can ever measure up. If I'm feeling good about my own work, I look at the book and think, "I can do that too!" The takeaway? Don't depend on feelings.
Kathy Bailey
Reading the winter away in NH

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Kathy, yesssss! I experience ALL those things! lol It always depends on how I'm feeling whether or not I am encouraged or deflated. I love it when I get swept away in a story, but I think I can stop and take notice when I really 'feel' something. At least I hope that is the case. Happy reading, friend!

Lloyd Edwards said...

I am definitely guilty of pigeon holing my reading to my favourite genre, which is also the only genre I write in.
But I have begun to make an effort to read books I normally wouldn't! I recently read a book about a young girl in 18th century London and her struggles with love and the corporate world. Ended up being a fascinating read despite having no knights or dragons!

Thanks for the advice!

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Lloyd, I'm also trying to read outside my genre. I read The Tattooist of Auschwitz and it was good. The reviews weren't great, but I was caught up in the story and ignored some of the writing faux pas. :) And yes, there are good books without knights or dragons. Gasp! Thanks for stopping by!