The very best way to improve as a writer is to read widely both inside and outside your genre. But reading for enjoyment differs from the reading for critical analysis that you do for writing improvement. It doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy your reading. It means that you need to understand the reading on a different level than you do when you read strictly for pleasure.

Here are some ideas to help read critically.

  1. Read the work through twice once to discover if you liked the story. If you liked the story, ask why or why not. Read the book a second time to consider the specific things you liked about the story underline particular lines that you thought were memorable or paragraphs that worked well in lyric language or descriptive language that you liked.
  2. Think about character, did the characters feel real? Did the characters move the story? Did I care about the Characters?
  3. What scenes were the most engaging? Did the side plots work? What drove the action in the story?
  4. Did I clearly understand where each scene took place? Did the author use all five senses to help draw you a picture of what was happening?

These are just some starting places to consider when you read critically. And don’t be afraid to mark in your books a well-written book can handle a few notes from a fan. It may seem like sacrilege but truly it’s the best way to learn what is great writing in a book and it’s a great way to learn what you like and what you don’t like as you develop your own voice.

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