You Need to Read to Write Well

booksMany well-known authors will admonish new authors and wannabe-authors to read, read, read. Yet, what many of them fail to make clear is why reading is so important. You’re not reading simply for the fun of it (although, that certainly helps); you’re actually reading to learn.

You need to select books that may not normally appeal to you; you need to look outside your genre and your preferences, but most off all, you need to read with awareness. You need to do more than just enjoy the story, you need to be aware of what you are reading. You need to notice the broad strokes and the details; understand and note the word choices; listen to the cadence of the author’s speech patterns; notice how the author sets the pace and note the story’s structure; pay attention to the characters and their actions and reactions; and hear the overall voice of the story. If you don’t read with awareness, you may fail to learn anything about why the book appeals or fails to appeal to you.

Enjoying books is great—I’ve enjoyed reading and books since I was about 2 or 3; however, like any artist, you need to study others in your field so that you can understand what and how they do what they do.  Writing, to me, can be every bit as complex and mystifying as a magic trick. While you’re busy watching the characters over here, the author is quickly rearranging the sets and hiding clues over there.  Therefore, to see the tricks as the magician (or author) is performing them, you need to keep your eyes and your mind open.

Some readers claim there is a formula or a predetermined framework to how stories are created, and, in some cases, that may be so. I think all good mysteries, romances, and thrillers follow a certain pattern or flow. However, I think a great story takes those same frameworks or formulas and stands them on their heads, but an author can’t do that until he or she fully understands what all the nuances and tricks are to writing a good story, first. Once you’ve discovered the secrets to building a good story, you can easily create a great one by tweaking the rules to suit yourself.

But how do you learn that formula or where can you get a copy of that structure? By reading and writing. Reading helps you identify the building blocks of a story. It shows you what is good (and bad) about plot and character development, about pace and flow, and about how much truth is required to make that fictional piece feel so real. Reading with awareness helps you see those ‘magic tricks’ so you can understand what to emulate and what to avoid when you build your own books. As you read through a story you can note the pace, the sentence and paragraph structure, and the different facets of the overall tone and voice of the piece. You need to make notes, highlight passages, and, much like you did in those long-ago, dreaded English and Literature courses in high school and college, explain why you like those passages or what is wrong with them. Explain (to yourself) what the theme of the piece was, the character’s motivations, and (yes) even the author’s motivation for writing the piece (and don’t use the old “…because they needed the money…” cop out). Really delve into the story and understand it.

And, if doing this on your own is difficult, then join a book club or reading group. These types of groups can help you refine your reading techniques and your ability to be aware of every part of that book. Reading is fun, but it’s also an exercise in understanding how to build a great story. If you want to learn to be a great author; then take the time to read…everything.

Mastering Meditation…

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It’s FREE, and it’s coming soon!

Did you ever want to try meditation but didn’t know what type? Or maybe you didn’t know there were different types of meditations? Well, there are. And in my soon-to-be-released FREE book, Mastering Meditation, you can check out the different types of meditation, try some of the different meditations from the book, and see which of them works for you. Do you want to relax? Or are you looking for help or guidance?

Do you wonder what types of lives you might have lived previously, or what lives you might live in the future? Using the regression and progression meditation techniques included in the book can help you find out. The book also contains some examples of past life memories as recalled by me and several others who have used these meditation techniques. So, get ready…this FREE book is coming soon.

 

A Review of “Xoe”

XoebookcoverXoe: or Vampires, and Werewolves, and Demons, Oh My! (Xoe Meyers #1) by Sara C. Roethle

Summary: Xoe Meyers had a normal life. So she was stuck going to high school, and she only had a few friends to call her own. She liked her normal life. Things were about to change though, because there’s a new guy in her small town, and he is anything but normal. Before Xoe can say, “Werewolf,” her best friend’s life is in peril, and Xoe’s world is turned upside-down. Then, of course, there’s Jason. Xoe doesn’t trust him as far as she can throw him, and given that he’s a vampire, she’d have to be able to catch him first.

Recommendation: Yes

Review:
Being an adult, I toned down my expectations and dove in…and was very pleasantly surprised.

Xoe was not the typical angsty teenager. Instead, she used sarcasm and wit (but in a rather intelligent way). She had more of a pragmatic view of life, but was definitely a teenager with a teenager’s penchant for living in the moment rather than thinking about long-term consequences. Xoe was a well-defined character, whose personality brought her right into the room with you.

Each of Xoe’s friends, as well as her antagonists, were also well-defined. They each had characteristics and personality traits that made them come alive, and I had no problem envisioning their world and identifying with their problems.

I thought the book would be a typical werewolves versus vampire type of story, but was rather surprised by the direction Xoe’s transformation took. It was different and interesting, and added an extra zing to the story.

The author’s writing style is reminiscent to Rick Riordan’s, which makes these books a pleasant and fun read.  Her story was fun, witty, and unusual, and I believe the intended audience will enjoy it immensely. (And I can’t wait to download number 2, “Accidental Ashes.”)