One of the best ways to learn how to write is to read...a lot. This something I've been told over and over again, both by writing teachers and other writers. I'm in luck on this one. "G" is for Genre Hopping and I love to read all genres; the hard-boiled detective drama, historical romance, weepy chick-lit. I like to read books multiple times and take them apart, figuratively, to find out why I like them so much. Is it the pacing? Are the characters memorable, if so, why? What compels me to keep reading? I underline and dog-ear my books like they are my college texts.
One of my favorite Genres is cop dramas. I got hooked one day on a flight to a funeral. My dad had one and I read it, despite the fact that it was not what I usually read, and loved it. The one I read in particular had these incredible frenetic chase scenes. They were like running with the cops while looking through a video recorder. The author gave tight shots of people through quick, fragmented descriptions of their actions during the chase.
The rest of the sentences in the scene were long, not quick and staccato like I’d thought. I decided that I had to try to learn from this guy…so I practiced in my own writing, the technique he used. It was awkward and forced at first, but eventually, I put my own twist on it.
If you’re interested, The Poetry Resource Page has a great writing exercise on creating a character with gestures alone. And if you're into blogfests, there is a Body Language Blogfest going on at the Labotomy of a Writer Blog on April 24th.
My challenge to you today is to read books you felt were most potent, most riveting, to you as a reader and find out why. I’ll bet you’ll learn some great new techniques without the fee and travel of a writing class. What can you learn from your favorite writer? Is it pacing, do they have great character quirks, or is it something less definable? I'd love to know what you found out.
Until next time, Go Write!
Photograph by Hamed Saber, Uploaded on August 24, 2006. Photograph by austinevan, Uploaded on August 24, 2007.