Sunday, July 10, 2011

Reading to Write Right

Reading to Write Right at Ordinary Lives

hehe. Could not resist that title.

Years ago I quit reading because I couldn't balance reading with life. Reading won, making my family suffer. Reading was an escape, which is what every author wants to hear, but not only was I escaping from life almost 100% of the time, but I was using the reading to drown out God calling me to write. That attempt didn't work well. Now that I've been writing for several years, it was time for me to start reading again--but I hafta tell you, I was concerned the reading would consume me again.

God is faithful. That didn't happen. Instead, He's opened my eyes to what books can teach me about writing.

See, when I began reading, I chose some books specifically as research--publishing houses I was thinking of targeting, the same era a series I'm working on is set in, and even authors who were cranking out books. A few books were thrown in simply because I enjoy that time in history or the back cover (and front cover) caught my attention, and some were given to me or I won on blog giveaways. *grin* I love those giveaways!

I never would've guessed how much I'd learn from reading. I mean, I've always noticed things as I read, even through those years I was using books to drown the voices in my head and heart, but now I'm seeing so much more. I'm recognizing what I'm seeing and dissecting the fine points.

Want an example?
I'm probably normal in that I tend to stop reading when I come to the end of a chapter or a scene break. A few books back, I remember checking the time, checking where the end of the chapter was, and deciding I could make it to that point. Well, I had to both groan and laugh when I got there because that particular author is THE queen of end-of-chapter hooks. She set that hook so well I could NOT close the book then. I groaned because life, kids and work were calling, and laughed because I knew exactly what she was doing. And it worked! I turned the page for "just one more page." Needless to say, I flew through that book. And totally loved it.

Curious about what book I was reading?
Well, I'll get to that. ;-) I've got a stack of books here beside my desk and I plan on posting about what I learned from each one.


So tell me, what great book have you read lately?

8 comments:

  1. I'm currently reading "Villette" by Charlotte Bronte. It is a huge book--over 500 pages, and sometimes she writes in French for entire paragraphs! (Thank goodness for Google Translate.) But what I love about Bronte is her use of words to create atmosphere. I also enjoy reading words that are not commonly used in America in this century. It takes me back to a time when writing was not just for market but it was a main source of entertainment. I like modern works, too, but the old Masters are often refreshing!

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  2. The Weight of Shadows by Alison Strobel

    Fantastic read. Alison deals with a difficult subject in a unique way and I couldn't put the book down.

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  3. To Win Her Heart by Karen Witemeyer.

    I too was "forced" to read that in one sitting,hehe. A brilliant historical romance that that from the moment the heroine sat up and took notice of this rather unusual hero... it was turn the page and curse the alarm clock in the morning chapter after chapter.

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  4. Yes, now that I'm writing more, I find that I read books (and watch movies) with a different eye. I see what "works" and what makes me groan because it's so boring or has a stilted dialogue.

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  5. Nancy, that's one of the books I'm reading now and it's soooo good. I'm loving it. Can't read it one sitting--there'd be a mutiny here, but I'm grabbing it every chance I have. (and I'll be posting about that book in this series. *g*)

    Vonnie, I snicker at the black moments in movies now. Sad but true. ;-)

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  6. Oh Dee, I know I should read some of those classics, but I never have. I think I'd enjoy them--the way with words I've heard they have... someday.

    Rita, I'll have to look that one up. =]

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  7. I really enjoyed this post, Patty! You write delightfully. I am finding I read (and yes, watch movies) with a totally different eye now, too--gleaning all I can about writing as I see how others do it. :) Plus, of course, reading books for research or specifically about writing. I'd love to hear more about the book(s) you are writing and have written, too!
    A good book I am re-reading right now (and actually trying to highlight places where I can learn from the writing) is Lauraine Snelling's A Dream to Follow. It's one of my favorites of hers. I keep stopping the highlighting, though, and just enjoying the story! :)
    Blessings to you.

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  8. We've discussed this - but I have SUCH trouble "noticing" craft stuff in books as I read. Hoping your series will help me!

    And a couple great books I've read recently are "Jewel of Persia" by Roseanna White and "Fools Rush In" by Janice Thompson. SUCH different books, but both wonderful in their own ways.

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