I wrote a post a while ago discussing the importance of being an active reader if you’re a writer. Please notice, I said “active” reader—not just a reader.
If you want to read actively, you need to pay attention to the way a writer writes. You need to notice the subtle as well as the obvious choices the writer makes to convey the tone, the mood, the theme, and the whole big story they’re telling.
In my last couple posts, I shared with you some well-written examples of figurative language taken from All the Light We Cannot See, the Pulitzer Prize–winning novel by Anthony Doerr. Today, I want to look at a very different book written by a different kind of writer: The Drifter (A Peter Ash Novel) by Nick Petrie. And instead of looking at imagery, we’re going to look at some examples of dry, sarcastic humor. Continue reading
When I get a new client who comes to me and tells me that this is their first book, I’m always curious as to the amount of work it’s going to need. Sometimes we have to start at the very beginning and work on their plot structure, their character and conflict development, and their dialogue, if they’re writing fiction; if they’re writing nonfiction, sometimes we start with the organization and the development of their ideas and lessons they’re trying to teach.
Once in a while, I’m amazed by how well a first book is done. Sometimes they don’t need that developmental help because it’s such a strong draft; we can move right to line editing, to polishing the words themselves and how they’re put together.
What makes the difference between the draft that needs a lot of help with the big picture and the one that doesn’t? I think it’s a mix of different things, but I think it often comes down to how much the author has studied the writing process itself as well as how much they’ve read. Whether you’re taking a class (or two or three) or you’re part of a writing group, or you’re simply reading, reading, reading to try to learn how others write successfully, you have to continue to learn and grow. Continue reading
I’m one month into the new year and holding true to my resolution to read more for both pleasure and to hone my skills as a writer and an editor. I’m enjoying myself too. I can’t say it enough: if you’re a writer, you need to read. Period.
Paul Kalanithi offered many writing lessons in his posthumously published, best-selling memoir, When Breath Becomes Air.
Paul was not only an immensely gifted writer, he was a neurosurgeon at the top of the list of residents ready to graduate from Stanford when he was diagnosed with lung cancer. I recommend reading his book for so many reasons: Continue reading
So far, so good. I’m keeping up with my resolution to read more for pleasure. I know, I know. It’s only January 16, but still …
I mentioned at the tail end of my last post that I’d started A Man Called Ove: A Novel by Fredrik Backman and that even though I’d just started, I could tell he was a master at developing characters. Boy, was I right. The characters he created for this book—not just Ove, but the supporting cast as well—will live with me for a long time. I finished the book yesterday—amid a cascade of tears—and I just can’t quit thinking about those characters. That, my writer friends, is what you want your readers to feel.
How did he do it? Continue reading
I don’t usually make resolutions for a new year, but this year I did. I resolved to read more best sellers in all types of genres—those I would naturally pick up and those I would naturally pass over.
I love to read, but you might be surprised to know I don’t do a lot of it for pleasure. As a full-time editor, it’s not uncommon for me to spend six to eight hours each workday reading clients’ projects. It’s hard at that point to sit down again and read for pleasure, so I end up saving my personal reading for bedtime … which means I read for pleasure for about ten minutes a day—if I’m lucky—before I fall asleep.
I realized that as both an editor and a writer, it’s really important for me to stay up-to-date on what’s selling and what people are raving about. Why? Continue reading