The Reading Secret for New Writers

For years now experienced authors have been telling new writers that reading is important, especially in the genre they would like to write in. Read a lot, they say. Unfortunately, they don’t tell you what they really mean . . . the secret. I read a lot and by some standards I’m a voracious reader. It isn’t uncommon for me to read one or two, or even three books a moreadingnth. I enjoy the stories and the characters and will follow a good series to the end wishing there was more. For the last few years, I’ve also started listening to audio books, especially as I drive to work or on vacations. That increases the number of books I go through significantly. So, when people tell me to read, read, read . . . I do. Then, what’s the secret the authors aren’t telling me . . . or you? Simple, don’t just read for your enjoyment of the story. Read and analyze what you’re reading. Where is the conflict? How does the author capture and keep your interest? What does each scene look like and what happens in each one? Whose point of view (POV) is expressed in each scene? And so forth.
I’ve realized that audio books are great for passing the time, but they are of marginal use to a new writer. More and more I have been going back to Amazon and ordering hard copies or eBooks of the audio stories I liked the best. Having struggled with understanding what a scene is, for example, I can now look at a chosen book and see what goes on between those triple asterisks ( ***) or other devices. Each of those devices separates one scene from another. Then I can search for the conflict or the tension that is supposed to be in each scene and whose POV it is. When you read for enjoyment and not necessarily for a lesson, you don’t see those important aspects of writing.
Perhaps the advice given to new authors should be, read a lot and study what you read. No amount of classroom work can do more for your writing that closely examining the books that you like reading. Once you start examining, don’t be surprised when you start doing it for movies as well. A married author team I know, follow certain TV series or select movies and discuss them during and after they are done watching. That may be a little extreme to some people, but this team happens to have over 70 books published and climbing.
Hopefully, what I said here will help you to learn faster than I have . . . it took me a while to figure out the secret.
What secrets have you found?

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