Reading with a Writer’s Eye

The best way to learn to write well is to note how published authors have applied all the writing elements and then trying to do the same in your own writing. Dissect published stories and articles to see how the pros assemble the writing puzzle.

Select your favorite novel, article, or short story from an anthology or magazine, then read it critically. Consider the following:

• Whose perspective is the story from?
• How is the conflict introduced?
• How does the main character react to the conflict?
• Does the main character solve the problem? How?
• How many scenes are included?
• With each scene is a new obstacle presented? If so, how is it resolved?
• If only one scene is used, how is the conflict escalated? Or, how do new problems arise as the main character deals with a problem?
• What is the length (duration) of the story? (A few hours, a day, several days?)
• How is the final problem resolved?
How quickly does the story conclude?

Sometimes it’s easier to reverse outline — that’s creating an outline based on what is already written.How has the writer drawn you into the piece? Underline each main point made in the article or key events in a story. Mark the anecdotes or facts used to illustrate each point in an article or note description in a story.

Review the “notes” on each piece you’ve analyzed. What have you learned? Try to emulate what you’ve discovered in your own writing. For example, suppose you notice how the author includes sensory detail. Ask yourself, have I includes sounds and smells as well as visual detail? How can I incorporate sounds? How can I weave in scent or smell? You’ll notice your own prose improving as you learn to read with a writer’s eye.

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One thought on “Reading with a Writer’s Eye

  1. Pingback: With a Writer’s Eye | lisawroble

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