Thursday, September 6, 2012

HOW TO READ LIKE A WRITER by Chelsea Fine

I'm a writer for many reasons that I could skew to sound poetic, but really, I'm a writer because I'm a reader. The two go hand-in-hand.

But as a writer, there are certain things I find difficult to execute in my storytelling so, as a reader, I hunt those things down and dissect them. Because I want to LEARN.

Let's get one thing straight, though. I couldn't care less about grammatical mistakes. Obviously I "care" (mostly because my editor cares) but I don't look for, or get hung up on, grammatical mistakes in books. I read for the storytelling and not the technical execution. But that's an entirely different post. ;)

What I look for in books are the "ahh" moments. You know how sometimes you'll read a passage that is so moving you don't notice how your mouth has fallen open while reading? I never used to pay attention to those moments, but now I stop. I highlight. I reread. I ABSORB how the author made me experience that moment. Because it’s an art. Here are my favorites:

Laughing in Bed
If I laugh out loud while reading (which is usually around 2am because I only read at ungodly hours), I stop myself and read through the passage again. Written comedy is tricky. It's all about pacing and word choice and it always runs the risk of being cheesy. So when I laugh so hard I snort, I stop and analyze how the author set up that passage and how they managed to do it without sounding ridiculous.

Crying until my face hurts
If I cry--oh man, if I CRY--I scrutinize the chapter. What was written leading up to that moment that made me care? What words were used that made the first tear fall? What lines would I highlight? Sometimes, it's all about one-liners. I'm not talking about zingers and punch lines (although, those are fun). I'm talking about single sentences that say something real and heavy and take your breath away. Those are gold and I want to learn how to write them.

Am I blushing? Awesome!
There is a fine line between SWEET and SENSUAL and that line is all in the words. When an author can describe a guy's fingertips brushing over a girl's jaw and turn me on, then I know I’ve found a winner. Because fingertips on a jaw line can go several ways. Are his hands calloused? Are they freezing cold? Are they covered in pancake syrup? These are important details. Pancake syrup fingertips are not as sexy as warm fingertips brushing soft as a feather against that sensitive spot just below the ear. Sexual tension, folks. I read it. I absorb it. And I learn from it. Sometimes in more ways than one. ;)

Between the Lines
The last thing I pay close attention to is what ISN'T written. Passages that say a lot using only a few words always impress me. I know this seems backwards, because I'm a writer and, by definition, words are what I do. But I want to be deliberate with my words. A writer can spend five paragraphs setting up a scene filled with angst where their character struggles with making a choice between right and wrong. OR... they could just write, "Screw right and wrong. Some things just ARE. And those are the things you don't question." It's to the point without losing the integrity of the idea. Some writers are really great at this. Someday, I hope to be one of those writers.

So that's how I read. I read to laugh, cry, respond, and be moved. But mostly, I read to learn. And for me, that's what reading like a writer is all about. :) 

AP SAYS: This is our last week in our summer guest post series! (Booooo, I know!) so, we decided to give you a choice in your giveaway goodies. Plus, we couldn't decide WhICH Chelsea title to give you, so you have to choose. Enter via the Rafflecopter and THANK YOU, THANK YOU for following along this summer. We're hoping to share a few more posts over the fall/winter so keep an eye out for those. This summer was so much fun with all these authors hanging around the blog!



a Rafflecopter giveaway

17 comments:

Katy Austin said...

Anew!!!!!! ive heard wonderful things and wanna read it super bad!!!!!

andrea dezan said...

Well, normally I would want ANEW, but I think I would like Sophie & Carter only because I like to take breaks from my usual reads. But I would definitely take either one.

Anonymous said...

awesome giveaway! I <3 Chelsea! really want to read Anew!
-alli
magnet4taken @ gmail . com

Jamie Manning said...

Oh, this is such a great post. I've always been afraid of marring my books by highlighting passages or scribbling notes in the margins, but now I think I should jump on board and just do it! Thanks for a great post, and a great giveaway--Since I just bought Anew, I'd love to win Sophie & Carter!

AuthorTiffany said...

I freaking love Chelsea!!!!!

Bethany Lopez said...

Great post! I have to agree, if a book doesn't make you feel anything, then what's the point? I love when a book makes me cry!

Ariel Avalon said...

I already own Anew in paperback and ebook, so I would like Sophie and Carter since I only borrowed it to read :(

Jackie said...

I read Anew and loved it.

javalotta said...

Sophie & Carter! I put it on my wish list after hearing how fabulous it is. I love the cover too!:) Thanks for the giveaway.;)

Lexi said...

Anew! I already read Sophie&Carter already and loved it, I might add!

Diana said...

I have already Anew, so I would love to read Sophie & Carter.
Thank you for the giveaway!
Demitra Giote

Grandma said...

I have read Anew n I'M ready for Awry,love Chelsea,ta pieces

Grandma said...

Yes Please,Sophie &Carter I have Anew

jaimecr76 said...

Sophie & Carter!

Kayla Moran said...

I already own Anew so I want Sophie & Carter!! I have been wanting to read this for awhile now!! =)

Jennifer L. said...

Sophir & Carter please!! :)

Giedre said...

I would like to win Sophie & Carter, because I already have Anew.