Friday, January 24, 2014

Reading like a writer

“All men have stars but they are not the same things for different people. For some, who are travelers, the stars are guides. For others they are no more than little lights in the sky. For others, who are scholars, they are problems. For my businessman they were wealth. But all these stars are silent. You—you alone—will have the stars as no one else has them.”


Reading is fun, but reading like a writer is even better. It is expansive. I will reveal the reasons why my mind becomes hyperactive every time I read something.

1)      I pay attention to the choice of words. If I encounter words that are not familiar to me, I look them up in the dictionary. Then I write them down. They become part of my “bank account of words”. Feel free to check my post on my endless love affair with words to understand this eternal infatuation.
2)      Whenever I read a story, I pay attention to the way each and every sentence is crafted. I notice how they are arranged into paragraphs. If I like their rhythm, I read them more than once.
3)      I notice how the writer unfolds the plot; I examine the ways the author manages the tension and the conflicts.
4)      I observe the characters. I learn to see how the writer reveals information about them.
5)      Many times I take notes on ideas that occur to me while I read the story. I explore the layers of meaning. I delve into the psychology of the characters and analyze their relationships and conflicts. I relate them to the world.
      6)      My mind elaborates the scenes. Snapshots of the characters and vivid images of the setting flash into my mind.
      All these actions that happen simultaneously while I read something enhance the reading experience.
 What about you? What is your reading experience like?
 I will be taking a break from blogging for 4-6 weeks. I will keep posting links to my works on my list of published material located to your left (my right.) If you miss my posts, feel free to check them. The upper part has the most recently published ones. 
 Thanks.

34 comments:

  1. That's what I call a 'full-bodied' reading experience.

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  2. When I started writing just over a year ago, I noticed that my reading changed and I began 'reading like a writer'. It was good to read your list, Julia. It puts into words many of the things I do subconsciously when reading. I don't take notes though so may have a go at that. Thanks!

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    1. Sometimes I take notes soon after I finish a short story because it helps me to understand it better... it is fascinating.
      I keep thinking of a story long after I finish reading it. I make connections...

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  3. The way I read has defiitly changed since I started writing. I'm both more critical and more appreciative.

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    1. True. Writing enhances our perspectives.

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  4. Julia, you have reached the stars. I can absolutely connect with your reading experience. One thing I have told my students for years is "Everyone is responsible for his or her own words."

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    1. Yes, I reach the stars, and I like the unique vision that we can all have about each story we read.
      Thank you for commenting.

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  5. For me, reading comes in multiple layers. The first time I read through it for the plot. If I simply enjoy it. For this, I can read almost anything.

    However, if a book is savory enough then I can go back again and read it. This time I read it from another perspective, depending on what prompted the rereading, my mood, current life experiences, I might read it from the perspective of a writer, a philosopher, or a historian/political scientist. (Books that I can only read once I call cotton candy, because they don't actually fill or feed my mentality.) During this and later readings, I discover new vocabulary, formats and structures, that I had not noticed before.

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    1. Dear Casi,
      I feel the same way. I've just finished reading "Runaway" by Alice Munro, and I had to go back to it to reread certain parts. There is so much complexity in that story that I kept thinking about it after I finished it. I love this kind of story. You are right; there are many layers involved in this fascinating process.

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  6. Sometimes reading like a writer, or an editor (even worse!) can ruin the experience for me. I appreciate those books that take me out of myself and my editor's judgement.

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    1. I know what you mean, but I don't read books with that judgmental mindset. I have a very open mind and I enjoy writers who are daring.

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  7. Hi Julia .. when someone asks me 'to do a review or a report back' I feel I need to sit with pen and paper ... and it doesn't come naturally to me - but if I study, or research .. I jot things down, dart around the stars of the story - whatever that might be - and generally find a thread I can use in my post.

    But I'm like Karen .. I'm not good at the first part .. I like to enjoy the story line ...

    However I do look up words and mentally note them (I only speak one language though!) ... but I research 'things' if there's something of interest ... eg Pata Negra .. I checked out Wiki ... I must say that ham looks positively delicious .. thank goodness it's nearly lunchtime!

    Cheers and good luck with your break ... and see you back soon - time does fly! Hilary

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    1. I'm sure you do, Hilary.
      I forgot to mention that I read with a sense of wonder.
      Sometimes I like to look for pictures of the places mentioned in a story...

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  8. An interesting post that I enjoyed reading.

    Thank you. Love love, Andrew. Bye.

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to read it... and for enjoying it.

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  9. I usually don't try to analyze my reading unless something's wrong. But when I'm editing, I can't help myself.

    Sometimes it gets so bad that I stop reading until I'm drafting again.

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    1. I don't analyze my reading either.
      I am an observer. Reading is a kind of awakening to me. An act of enlightening as long as I enjoy the read...
      I don't analyze it. I read it with a sense of wonder.

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  10. I love your blog
    followed
    http://minimaysi.blogspot.co.uk/

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  11. I rejoice in the rhythm of the sentences. It is a pleasure to re-read them and to relish their musicality.

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  12. For the most part, I read for the story. That hasn't changed much since I've started writing.

    www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

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    1. We all read for the story. As writers, however, we can become more open-minded and look deeply into it...

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  13. Julia, you have such an expansive and creative mind! Reading like a writer, I like that and never really thought of it that way. Your six points here are excellent tips, and I’d like to save and remember them when I read. Wishing you continued good luck with your writing as you take a break from blogging! Btw, just read Choice, really liked it and left a comment.

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    1. Dear Jersey, we are both on the same wavelength.
      Thank you so much for taking the time to read "Choice". I love to read your thoughts and comments, so I will take a look now.
      I hope you are having a lovely week!

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  14. I loved your description of the layers of reading experience. I agree that "reading like a writer" is a satisfying way to read. I get much more out of books now than when I was just reading for entertainment -- and without it's losing one bit of entertainmend value. I love the way words are put together to achieve special effects and I love layered scenes that resonate later, long after putting down the book. It's hard to imagine what life must have been like for people who lived before there were books.

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    1. Yes, Elizabeth. I know what you mean. I love to dig deep into those layers!.
      Thank you for your comment. We are on the same wavelength...

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  15. Great tips. What a great idea. I will jug them down for future reference.

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  16. Great advice Julia. I like finding interesting combinations of words and stringing two or three of them together.

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    2. Thanks, Rick. I didn't mean to give advice. I just shared my experience. That's all. But it's good to know you find it useful.

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  17. Hello Julia, I couldn't agree more with you here as you have described the exact experience I have when reading books. I am passionate about reading, and words. Wonderful words. Thank you for popping over to my blog, I'm guessing it's through Gary which is a really nice connection to have *smiles.

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