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Sunday, 29 November 2009

Can you read?

In order to write, you need to read. Not just reading for pleasure, but to study and analyse each word and structure of sentence or paragraph.

I don’t read properly… of course I can read but I’m what you’d call a lazy reader. If I come across a name that's not so easy on the tongue, such as Mr Krowaulski for instance, and it will simply become Mr Cows; then whenever I see that name it’s Mr Cows and not Mr Krowaulski because I can’t be bothered to decipher the letters.

I've learned to read now, and my vocabulary has improved no-end. So, don't skim instead read and see the words you are reading.

The real test is to read the first chapter as you normally do and jot down what you remember most about it. Then, reread and read it carefully, no skimming, take in any name and pronounce it carefully. Any spellings you don’t understand look up in the dictionary and once finished jot down what you remember again and compare notes just to see the difference between skimming and reading.

This way you’re reading as a writer. You’re looking at the structure of the sentences; the formation of the words. How does the book cope with POV? Is it in the first or the third person? What's its style?

When thinking about style, consider the clothes people wear. Do you know someone who always dresses in pink? Maybe the clothes are old fashioned or the latest fashion. Styles of clothes are used to express individuality.

Authors have style but it's called literary style or, more usually, the writer's voice. Writers use words in the right sequence to make a story.

Other elements that contribute to writing style include the rhythm of the language, figures of speech, punctuation, and character development.

Study the books you read and note how they do things. How do they incorporate a fight scene when many things are happening all at once? How'd you make a love scene feel tender instead of sleazy?

Read, study, read.