Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose – A Review

Reading Like a Writer

Reading Like a Writer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Reading Like a Writer‘ was one of the most helpful writing guides that I have read thus far.  It is by no means a simple how to guide on how to be a better writer.  Instead Francine Pose guides you through extracts of well written literature and cautions readers to slow down and pay attention to words.  She explains that a good writer makes sure that each and every word in the story has a purpose.

Although it is not an easy feat to attempt to write as well as the authors discussed in the book (even a bit daunting), Prose has inspired me to be a better writer and at the same time a better reader.

Notes & Quotes

* ‘You can assume that if a writer’s work has survived for centuries, there are reasons why this is so.’ – Prose highlights that reading or re-reading the classics is as beneficial as reading the modern novel.

* Skimming is not my friend.  Yes I have a lot of books to read in my life time but as Prose advises ‘Skimming just won’t suffice if we hope to extract one fraction of what a writer’s words can teach us about how to use the language’

* Telling Vs Showing – ‘don’t tell us a character is happy, show us.’  There are however still occasions when telling is far more effective and time saving.

* Paragraphs – ‘A new paragraph is a wonderful thing.  It lets you quietly change the rhythm, and it can be like a flash of lightening that shows the same landscape from a different aspect.’ – Babel

* Don’t leave out the details! – ‘Details are what persuade us that someone is telling the truth.’  We need to trust the writer is in control.

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Eerie Settings for Writing Inspiration

Abandoned Caravan

Abandoned Caravan

I always take photos of settings that I think are creepy for writing ideas.  Here are some I have collected over the years, maybe they will provide writers with some inspiration for their next ghost/horror story.

Abandoned House in Slovenia

Abandoned House in Slovenia

Ripponlea Estate - Melbourne, Australia

Ripponlea Estate – Melbourne, Australia

Creepy doorway in Spain

Creepy doorway in Spain

Dark Stairway

Dark Stairway

On Writing by Stephen King

As a beginning fiction writer and a fan of Stephen King I was looking forward to getting some tips from a master of the craft.

While it did have a little too much biography and don’t get me wrong, it was interesting to read how he developed as a writer, I did gain some valuable writing advice that I had not found in other writing guides.

* The revision sections really helped me; leaving the manuscript for 6 weeks, getting rid of pronouns and adverbs that are not absolutely necessary, letting 6-8 people read your book at its second draft.

* His tips are simple and get straight to the point.

* The actual example of a revised story (1408, near the back of the book) was particularly helpful.  You can clearly see the revisions.    He also explains his reasons for making changes and cutting certain parts.  The editing part is what is really challenging for me as a writer and his techniques made the whole process not so daunting.  KING