In my blog post on Reading Day, one commenter wrote, “A good exercise for these writers would be to read critically for craft. I know we’re all supposed to do that anyway, and we notice examples of good or bad writing as we read, but I mean that they should read really closely for craft. Do a paragraph-by-paragraph or sentence-by-sentence analysis as they go along. Really dissect each little bit of the writing while paying attention to the overall plot, themes, etc., even if the book at that moment isn’t at a high point of tension. I think they’ll be surprised how much more time and brain power it takes and maybe gain a better appreciation of what you mean by reading (even if it’s not exactly the same).”
I wanted to highlight what this reader said because it is a great exercise and something I frequently recommend to my clients and other writers. If you find yourself struggling with your writing, maybe you’re having trouble developing your characters or the plot, go back and read some of your favorite books in the genre you’re writing in. The reason I suggest you reread your favorites is that you’re less likely to get caught up in the story and better able to read critically when it’s a book you already know.
As you’re reading do exactly as this commenter suggested. Dissect the book and figure out why things are working and how they’re developed. Reading critically like this can help you hone your craft. Listen, I do it. Reading critically like this helps me help my authors write better books.