December 27, 2022
by Jess Lourey
Editor's Note: If you're like me you're always reading articles about writing; looking for tips or trends, advice on how to work through problems, tricks to make plotting easier, someone's fool-proof writing process...
What works for one might not work for another, but what doesn't work at one point in your WIP might work at another point. I can hear the same advice a number of times, a number of ways, but it's the time I hear it when I most need it that matters.
I know you've heard it all before - me too - but hearing it today might make the difference.
Here's some great advice from Jess Lourey.
Reading Like A Writer
Imagine being a chef who only eats chicken nuggets, a carpenter who refuses to look at buildings straight on, or an orchestra conductor who doesn't listen to anything but commercial jingles. Such is the problem for a writer who doesn't read regularly and widely.
Books are the maps to your craft.
Reading like a writer requires you to figure out what in a piece of fiction moves you and what turns you off. I'm calling that self-awareness your narrative detective—its job is to solve the mystery of the narrative, looking at the ways it is and isn't succeeding—and I'm going to encourage you to feed it PIE every time you read anything: a menu, a short story, the interpretive plaque next to the world's biggest redwood tree.
Here's the ingredients to the PIE:
P: prepare with pen and paper. In other words, always have a notebook and something to write with nearby when you read. Be prepared for insight. A writer cannot simply read for pleasure. S/he uses every word as research.
Jess Lourey writes about secrets. She's the Amazon Charts bestselling, Edgar, Agatha, and Lefty-nominated, Anthony and Thriller Award winning author of crime fiction, nonfiction, children's books, YA adventure, and magical realism. She is a retired professor of creative writing and sociology, a recipient of The Loft's Excellence in Teaching fellowship, a Psychology Today blogger, and a TEDx presenter (check out her TEDx Talk for the surprising inspiration behind her first published novel). When not leading women's writing retreats, reading, traveling, or fostering kittens, you can find her drafting her next story.
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