The best lessons I learned were from these 3 different books

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I Love To Read

Reading is one of my frequent hobbies. I’ve been reading for a long time. You could’ve easily guessed this considering that I am a writer. But what you couldn’t is the great impact it has had and still has on my writing. reading is not only enjoyable but enjoyably educational across many subjects. One of its biggest,  writing.                    

But since I’ve been a writer I read differently. I read more cautiously and try not to read many works that are the same genre as the pieces I am writing. Reading is great and writing is great but honestly, if I’m reading a heartfelt book, the next moments in the story I am writing are more likely to be heartfelt. Reading this way helps me not to sound like the authors and writers I am reading and sound like me.               

So do I read, yes. But I just am not a serial reader at the moment and take breaks between books and chapters to give my mind room to authentically create its own stories.              

But let me tell you that some of the books I read since being a writer have been some of the best books I have ever read. Previous to being a writer I read primarily YA fiction, now I am reading classical fiction, adult fiction, mystery and thriller, prose, and even non-fiction; Books in these genres are books I never thought I’d read constantly and for fun, but they were and are better than I expected.              

But I have also been able to learn from them. I’ve realized different writing aspects that I hadn’t noticed with the other, very similar, books I was reading.

Some Of The Best Books I Have Read By Far

1. George Orwell’s Animal Farm

              I’ve only just recently read this and was surprised at how good it was. Obviously, it would be good because, it is written by George Orwell, one of the best writers to ever live, but before Animal Farm, I have never read any of his work. The story was not a long one but it still packed so much within; It also reads very smoothly, similar to the way a child fairytale story does. But is more profound than it seems.

              The book tells the story of the Animal Farm, once called the Manor Farm before it was taken over by the animals of the farm. Without spilling too much about what goes on in the story figuratively and literally, be sure to give this a read or listen to the audiobook.

2. Girl In Translation Jean Kwok

           I honestly thought this book was non-fiction. That was because of Jean Kwok’s amazing diction and sentence structures. And also because of how life-like the events that took place were. They could easily be someone’s actual life experience.

              This book had been in my library for some time and I can not accurately tell you how it got there. But I had not known Jean Kwok or her stories before reading it. So I had only the cover & comments and reviews, and the synopsis on the back of the book to go off of; In the most basic sense, the story is about a girl named Kimberly Chang and her and her mother’s experience as migrants from Hong Kong in New  York. It is a beautifully written spectacular coming-of-age story.

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3. Roses are Red by James Patterson

               Never would I have picked up a thriller-filled mystery book like this before reading Roses Are Red; I watch movies and shows like it but have not read mystery and thriller books. Not one this good anyway. But when I read it, it turned out to be better than almost all the detective, mystery, and crime shows I’ve watched. Written in 1st person and 3rd person, experiencing what Alex Cross’s hunt for The mastermind was enthralling. I was actually on the edge of my seat with this book.

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How The Books I Read Effect My Writing: What I Learned

These books were not just fun to read. Each book was amazing and amazingly different from the type of stories I am currently writing. They were also different from one another. And by the end, after enjoying the books, as a writer I learned a lot. These are the top 3 things I learned.

Full Circle Or Complex Spider Web

       This concept I learned especially from James Patterson’s Red Roses. Everything from beginning to end was not only relevant but connected. Each paragraph and chapter need each other to make a complete story. After I finished reading the book and found out who the Mastermind was I had to go back and re-read some parts in excitement and for confirmation. Especially since I knew there was something sketchy about a particular character.

              In a recent post, I wrote about including unnecessary information and making sure that the story as a whole makes sense. Roses are Red took this concept to a whole new level for me. When writing I am now challenged to analyze whether all parts of my story blend well together to make a really good story. Ensuring that everything is connected (or at least the things that need to be). This concept may seem obvious but when written and done well as James Patterson demonstrated, I realized that I need more practice.

Ease Of Reading: Smooth Like Butter

              Jean Kwok and George Orwells writing skills and mastery shone through their work. Certain aspects more than others. During my reading, the ease of reading is what stood out the most: the story read smoothly like butter in two distinct ways. I didn’t have to re-read any sentences for clarification and I was easily interested throughout most of the story.

A Beautiful Story Within  A Powerful Message

While George Orwell’s story was beautifully written, its contents are no ordinary thing. The story was written to reflect Russia under Soviet Communism but the animal’s journey also reflects any society’s condition under unfair rule (totalitarian, fascist, communist, etc.).

Reading this story inspired me to reconsider my story’s messages and themes, and the best way to deliver these themes and messages. 

Everything Leads Up To This Moment

Jean Kwok, George Orwell, and James Patterson developed anticipation in different ways.

              In Jean Kwok’s Girl In Translation readers are anticipating a happy ending and some sort of success for Kimberly Chang. If not a happy ending for Kimberly, the readers could be invested in any of the characters and be excited to see what happens to them by the end of the story.

              In James Patterson’s Roses Are Red readers are excited to see who the criminal is, how the mystery is going to be solved, how the detective is going to do it, and by the end what mysteries the detective will solve next.

              In George Orwell’s Animal Farm readers are interested in seeing how the farm and the farm animals turn out, and if the animals are able to eventually live their dreams.

               Each story had something for readers to hold on to or look forward to; In the same way, my stories should also have something for the reader to anticipate. Beyond keeping in mind who the story is for, these books have taught me to also be mindful of what the story gives.

Intentionally Learning How To Write Through Reading

              When I read these books, I read them for fun and enjoyed them. But I also learned so much. Reading books to intentionally learn how to write stories and discover different writing skills and techniques, considering similar things, and more requires questions. Lots of questioning in fact. An easy way to navigate this method of analysis is through the 5 W’s (and how).

As you ask questions starting with the 5 w’s (and how) consider each question from two perspectives: the story’s perspective (the character or in the context of a story as a whole) or through the author/writer’s perspective.

Who

Who is talking? Who is the main character?

Who

Who is writing? Who can the reader be writing to? Who may be excited to read the story?

What

What is going on? What is the problem? What is the character’s problem? What is going well or horribly? What does the character want? What does or doesn’t the character have? What does the character think? What effects does the character’s action have on the story? 

What

What is the author doing? (this is a large question that should be considered at most if not all parts of the story) What is the author saying, if anything? What doesn’t the author do?

Where

Where does the story take place?

Where

Where is the author or writer taking the reader?

When

When is the story talking about? When does the story take place? Is there any historical context? Does the story sound or look similar to the world or era you live in?  

When

When does the author decide to reveal certain information? When does the author relate or represent themselves through a part or aspect of the story? When did the story really end? When did the big problem get solved? When does a character leave or enter the storyline?

Why

 Why is a certain problem important to the storyline? Why does a character feel conflicted? Why must a character make a choice? Why is a character relevant in the story? Why does the story end or start the way it does? Why are you still reading the story? Why do you think the story continues?

Why

Why does the author or writer do what they do? Why do they choose a specific problem? Why does the author think a certain thing is relevant to mention? Why does the author go into detail about a thing? Why doesn’t the author mention something? Why does the author write for a character to go through a certain kind of problem? Why does the author choose to solve a certain issue the way they write it? Why do they describe something the way they do? Why do they introduce the character the way they do?

How

How does the story start? How does the story end? How does the character end up where they do? How does the character feel? How does the character succeed? How is the story told? How is the story understood by you the reader? How do you the reader feel by the end of the book?

How

How does the author write the story? How do they organize the events that take place? How does the author describe someone or something? How does the author make things clear to the reader? How does the author hook the reader?

Finding The Best Books To Learn From

Learning how to write through books can be accidental and spontaneous or intentional and thorough. Either way, it can be done with your favorite book or with a book you’ve never even heard of before you’ve picked it up. My learning with these three books happened to be accidental and spontaneous. Some of the books were just sitting on my bookshelf. But after learning so much from the books, I am now adding books to my reading list. Some of them are obviously for learning how to write. And others are just good stories.

As you go on to learn writing from reading stories, mix in some books that you will find fun with books that more directly give you advice for writing. You can even use your favorite book or pick up a random one.

Don’t forget to check out Secondsale for all these books and other books you love. They carry most books at decent prices.

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The End

              These books were great and so were the stories. But the lessons were even greater. There are so many questions and things to consider when reading or learning from a story. So take them one at a time and learn to apply the picked-up skills in your own stories and pieces. And remember that even though they may be so many things to consider, some things are just the way they are and may not have been a profound decision the author made. 

Until my next words (on here that is)
Christa

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