Reading as a Writer

To write well, read as much as you can and as widely as you can. Push yourself to read authors you’ve not come across before. Go outside your comfort zone with genres. Try reading in different formats, you may find a book you struggled with in paperback captivates you in audio. Read like a writer. Consider what works and why.

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”

Stephen King (2000), On Writing. Hodder & Stoughton

Reading Like a Writer

Read published work critically. Analyse the way the author has achieved certain effects. Looking at their style, think about sentence length and rhythm, and how these contribute to the narrative drive. Why has the author chosen to tell the story from a particular point of view? How does metaphor/simile enhance/detract from a text? How is the overall story structured? If it contains flashbacks, where do these occur?

More on this Topic

  • A free online course is available with The Open University: Creative Writing and Critical Reading.
  • Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose – an easy read with examples.
  • Exploring the Language of Poems, Plays and Prose by Mick Short – an academic text, but recommended for those who want to really understand the nuts and bolts of how language works.

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