If you want to be a writer, you must first be a reader.
It is by reading that an aspiring writer will learn the cadence of words and how they kiss her heart. When the words touch you so much you want to cry, study them to find out why they have that effect on you. Is it the order in which they are put together? Are they good strong words that evoke an image or a feeling deep inside you stirring your emotions?
Is the author using strong action verbs and concrete nouns to get her message across? Perhaps she is using short sentences that make you feel breathless because you are caught up in the suspense of the story? Short sentences quicken the pace, while long lilting sentences slow the pace. There’s a place for both.
I like it when my heart races in an emotional scene. I am caught up in the feelings, the imagery, the sounds and less often the taste, as the characters are interacting with each other. An author draws her reader in when she engages the senses, putting the reader in the shoes of the character.
When the characters are speaking, do you feel you are there with them, watching the body language, hearing the rhythm of the words, feeling the characters emotions and wanting to go in and bat for one of the characters? The author has done her job if you can be drawn in to the scene and carried along with the action. Take note of how the author uses the words to create tension between the characters.
Words are the tools the writer uses to create characters, scenes, setting and atmosphere. Study the words and understand why the author uses those words and the effect they have on the scene. Try and substitute a word you might use and see how the writing changes.
Every writer has their own bag of words they use to create their stories, and you will have your own cache of different words. The words you choose, when combined in your unique way, and with much writing practice, will become your unique voice and style that others will want to study and understand.
Studying another writer’s work is important to understand why you choose your own words, however to copy another’s style does you no favours. The style will come across as choppy and not ringing true to your voice. Try not to fall into copying another’s style. Be your authentic self, choosing words that you would use, and you won’t go too far off the track as you transition from reader to author.
I’d love to hear what you love in your reading, and if you are an aspiring author, who has inspired you to pick up a pen and start writing? Thank you for leaving your comments below.