June 28, 2017

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Reading Like a Writer

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photography-leisure-book-woman-image27342822I just finished reading the book, Reading Like a Writer, by Francise Prose and it made me realize I was reading all wrong!  I was devouring my books, reading as fast as I could to get to the end and not savoring each sentence.  It was like getting a box of Godiva chocolates and gobbling up the whole box at one sitting (not like I ever did that LOL!) instead of taking one piece at a time and letting it melt in your mouth slowing allowing you to enjoy the experience.

The book was written by author Francine Prose (don’t you love when someone’s name matches their profession?)  and she changed the way I read.  These two paragraphs in her book hit a chord,

We all begin as close readers. Even before we learn to read, the process of being read aloud to, and of listening, is one in which we are taking in one word after another, one phrase at a time, in which we are paying attention to whatever each word or phrase is transmitting. Word by word is how we learn to hear and then read, which seems only fitting, because it is how the books we are reading were written in the first place.

The more we read, the faster we can perform that magic trick of seeing how the letters have been combined into words that have meaning. The more we read, the more we comprehend, the more likely we are to discover new ways to read, each one tailored to the reason why we are reading a particular book.

I realized I wasn’t reading like a writer at all, but a glutton.  I’ve slowed down my pace, really analyzing the intent of the sentence.  I’m looking at the sentence structure, the use of adverbs and adjectives, and think about why they were chosen.

I’ve begun to keep a diary of verbs, adverbs and adjectives that I like and seem strong so that when and if I decide to write I’ll have a choice of power-house words that mean something to me and hopefully to others.

I’ve also started looking up words I’m unfamiliar with instead of skimming over them.  If you read on a Kindle this is especially easy.

Does it take longer to read this way?  It sure does. It probably took me three times longer to read a book this way.  But I think it’s well worth the time.  I feel like I know the author better and that I’m improving my writing skills.  Try it and let me know what you think.