Books entertain, inspire, educate and take us to other worlds. But, as a writer, do you read to your fullest potential? A true writer reads with observation.
How does your favorite author use language? Writers express themselves with different words. You may want to keep your Writer Journal handy to make lists of beautiful words, words to define or words that blend smooth transitions.
Watch for plot points – When writing fiction, we know we’re supposed to give our hero one obstacle after another. Use highlighters to tract plot points and learn how to develop your own.
Observe Character Development– Study the manner in which the writer reveals the character’s traits – appearance, inner-life, personality and relationships. This is especially helpful when we have a tendency to “dump” about our characters, i.e. “Sally looked in the mirror at her soulful blue eyes, the black ringlets of her hair surrounded a perfectly sculptured face….” Blah, blah, blah.
Pay Careful Attention to Dialogue – Can you tell what character is speaking? Does the dialogue serve to further the plot? Dialogue may be one of the most difficult aspects of fiction writing. Learn from the experts.
Read Something Outside Your Comfort Zone – If you are addicted to romance novels, read a spiritual book. If you only read books on how to write, select a best- selling novel. A change in perspective may be just the ticket when we have “writer’s block”.
Writer Journal Assignment: After you finish the book you are reading, journal with the aim to mesh your thought with the author. Write a “Dear Author” letter in your writer journal addressing the following questions:
What lessons did you learn from the book? Is there anything the author could have expanded upon for a clearer understanding of the story? Did you like/dislike the characters? Why? Did the author help with dialogue challenges? How? Did the author resolve all conflicts? Would you have written a different ending? What?
If you and the author were in the same room, what would you like to tell him/her? Write a paragraph or two asking questions, giving compliments, etc.
Were you emotionally engaged with the character to the extent you would invite him/her to dinner? Creatively visualize a telephone conversation between you and the character, using all dialogue. You might start: “Jon, I met you in Larry Smith’s book…”
Read over your word list and look up the meanings of any that aren’t clear. Own your new words!
Imagine you received a commission to write a sequel of the book and list several plot points.
A good writer reads, reads, reads and then writes. However, a great writer does not read instead of writing.
Are you excited to read more journal assignments written by this author?