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Improve Your Craft by Reading

Updated: Jun 5

We all know we need to read to become better writers, but we need to read critically to learn and explore genres, authors, and themes.

So, what does it mean to read critically?

Basically, it means while reading you ask questions. What is the author trying to tell you? What argument are they making, and what techniques are they using?

Read widely and diversely.

Expand your knowledge by reading a variety of genres, styles, and authors.

Exposure to different voices and perspectives will broaden your understanding of storytelling techniques and inspire you to be creative with your own writing.

Approach works with a critical mindset.

Analyze the choices authors make with their use of language, structure, characterization, and plot development. Consider how their choices impact the narrative and think about how you can apply similar techniques.

Note what works and what doesn't.

Not every published book or author gets everything right.

As you read, identify elements that resonate with you and those that fall flat. Question why certain passages evoke emotions or create tension, while others feel dull or confusing.

By recognizing what works and what doesn’t, you can incorporate those strengths into your work and learn from the weaknesses you observe.

Consider the reader's (your) experience.

How does the author engage and captivate you?

Note the pacing, the way information is revealed, and the effectiveness of suspense and surprise.

Consider how the author maintains your interest and engagement throughout the story. Then reflect on how you can apply these techniques to keep your readers hooked!

Deepen your understanding of craft elements.

Analyze how the author uses dialogue, description, point of view, and narrative structure.

Ask how they employ these elements to enhance the story and create a compelling experience.

Identify techniques that resonate with you.

Reflect on themes and underlying messages.

Explore underlying messages in the books you read.

Consider how the authors convey their ideas through their storytelling and character development. What impact do these themes have on you and how can you incorporate meaning into your writing?

By reading critically, you can gain valuable insights, expand your literary knowledge, and refine your writing skills.

Embrace a critical mindset to learn from others and you will grow as an author and enhance your skills.

I hope you enjoyed this article.

Happy Writing and Revising!

Kristin Noland - Speculative Fiction and Crime Fiction Editor and Ghostwriter

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