One of the best tools for improving our writing is to analyze what we read. I mentioned this last week when I talked about reading. Let’s take that to the next level.
“The ability to see our own work clearly is one of the greatest challenges of writing. Authors fill in the blanks of their characters and world and stories in their heads without realizing whether it’s coming across effectively on the page to readers. It’s almost impossible to assess our own work as objectively as we can with other people’s.” — editor and novelist Tiffany Yates Martin, writing on publishing guru Jane Friedman’s blog
Start, Martin says, with yourself. Your reaction. Then dive in, analyzing more deeply.
I’ve suggested this before, offering specific suggestions for outlining a book you want to learn from. Yes, colored pencils or highlighters are involved. I’m actually gearing up to do this myself, reading several books by an author I admire, then choosing one to outline deeply to watch how she handles story. Heck, I might do two. She’s doing something readers love and respond to, and I want to grasp it more fully. There’s no better way than breaking it down, scene by scene, element by element.
Sharpen your pencils — or your highlighters — and go!