Thursday, October 16, 2008

Read, Read, Read

You've heard it said a million times. I've said it myself. One of the best ways to become a writer is to read. Pick some of the bestsellers in the genre you love, and read them thoroughly. A couple of times. First, for enjoyment of course. Then, when you've finished, turn on your internal editor and note how the story is constructed. Dissect the book into the Inciding Incident, the Turning Points, The Black Moment, and the Resolution. (In romance, we look for the meet, the first kiss, the love scenes, any plot twists/turns, the breakup moment, and the happily-ever-after.)

Also, pay close attention to the way the writer uses words - not to copy, but to understand the way a bestselling author strings them together. It's not average.

For example, you'll notice that most class-act writers do not go for the obvious similes and phrases. "Light as a feather." "Strong as an ox." These are the ones that come right off the top of your head, and they're so familiar they're boring. For a good movie example, I like "Under the Tuscan Sun." The narrator is talking about her trip to the open-air market, where the scent of grapes permeates everything. She tastes one and says, "It even smells purple." You know exactly what she's talking about in four words. Readers love a good verbal surprise, something vivid and fresh. Unexpected. Those are the books we come back to ... and the writers we buy more books from.

Take a trip to the bookstore and spend some money. Write it off as research material! Who knows? You might find a new favorite author.

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