You have probably heard it a million times: reading makes you a better writer. But you might be wondering how.
Well, it doesn’t happen just by reading. That would be like mindlessly watching Dancing With the Stars and expect to dance the tango like a pro. To improve your writing, you have to ask yourself questions as you read.
To help you out, I have put together a list of questions to ask yourself the next time you read a book. If you keep these questions in mind as you read and answer them (don’t be afraid to write your answers in the margins or in your journal), you will become a better writer.
1. Do all the events that happen in this book make sense? Why or why not?
2. Was my interest kept throughout the book?
3. Was a scene particularly slow or boring? Why?
4. Was there part of the book where I couldn’t put it down? Why?
5. Did all the events seem plausible? Why or why not?
6. Were there any inconsistencies in the story?
7. Did everything happen at the right time? Why or why not?
1. Did you know all the characters motivations?
2. Did the characters behave in a realistic manner? Why or why not?
3. Did you feel like the characters were cartoonish or complex? Why?
4. What details helped develop the character?
5. Did his or her dialogue reflect his or her personality? Why or why not?
6. How did he or she interact with others? Did you find his or her personal relationships believable?
7. Does he or she feel things or react in a way that is believable? Why or why not? (This is good to ask for every scene).
1. What are your favorite lines/passages? Go back through the book and underline them. What makes them so good? Analyze every word.
2. What parts weren’t so good? Analyze why they didn’t work.
3. Was the narrative voice appropriate for the story? Why or why not?
4. Did the tone of the writing match what happened in the scene? Why or why not? (You can use this for every scene).
5. What characterizes this author’s style? Short sentences? Long descriptions? Fun images?
6. For the passages you liked, how can you emulate elements of it in your own writing?
The key is to constantly analyze what the writer is doing and think about how it applies to your own writing!
What questions do you ask yourself when you read? Do you have a favorite from the list? Let me know in the comments below!