Reading to Become a Better Writer

Three years ago I became serious about becoming an author. “Read books your audience is reading” was the first advice I latched onto. For twenty years I had been reading middle grade books out loud to kids, but at home and leisure time I spent time mostly with books for adults.

I made the change and began devouring every middle school book in sight. Of course there were long stares in airports or other public places as people saw my nose buried in TIMMY FAILURE or MIDDLE SCHOOL, THE WORST YEARS OF MY LIFE. But other more understated titles often brought interest from whoever was seated in 12F.

After reading dozens of titles, the original advice was spot on and I have observed a few things that have changed me as a reader and a writer.

  1. I find writing flows better after a reading session. The creative juices get cranked up and the telling of my story gets told in a much better way.
  2. I still read for plot and character development, but now I find myself looking at sentence structure. When something captures my eye, I will re-read it and take note of the marvelous ways authors can make a line come to life with the right placement of words. I learn as I read.
  3. I’ve become a more critical reader, especially when spotting paragraphs or chapters that don’t move a story forward.
  4. When I have an emotional reaction to something I’m reading, I stop and analyze what it was the writer did to put me in that position.

I’m fairly sure these points are typical for writers of all genres. For now, it’s time to do some more reading. There’s a lot more writing that needs to be done.

About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...writing middle grade novels.
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