Why is it important for writers to read? We hear it time and time again that it’s important, and that reading different styles and genres will help with our own writing. I also felt like those arguments were always a little vague, and I started wondering why I had to read and why couldn’t I just watch a t.v. show? I mean, those are focused on story telling as well. Isn’t that the same thing?
Well, no. Not really. Unless you want to be a screenwriter, it’s better to focus on reading books. But you can’t just passively read books. You have to read books actively. And I’m going to give you one prompt to help you grow as a writer from reading. (Trust me- it’s a good one.)
Step one- read & finish a book (obviously)
You want to read books that are both inside and outside of your genre. I would also suggest that reading books that are either feature minority characters or are written by POC/ LGBT+/ authors with disabilities. If you’re not sure where to start, look into the “we need diverse books” campaign or the “own voices” hashtags.
Step two- once you’ve finished the book, figure out what your favorite chapter/ poem/ scene was.
If you have more than one favorite, then determine your favorite two scenes. You’re going to want to keep the size of the section as small as you can. If you choose only a sentence or a line, that is perfect. If you choose a larger section, that’s cool too, but you might have to narrow down in the next part.
Step three- discover what you specifically liked about this section of the book.
It might be the way that the author uses dialogue, or how the humor works in the book. Maybe you love the language/ word choice/ they way multiple languages merge in and out of the section. Maybe you liked the use of punctuation or you thought that the image was really great. Really, there are so many things that you could love about a scene/ sentence.
Step four- figure out why this specific scene/sentence/line/etc. works so well
THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THE PROMPT. This is where you actually learn from the book. It might take a while to figure out why you like something/ how it works, but just work with the section for a while. Look at the sentence structure, the word choice, the way that the author uses literary devices (flashback, alliteration, chiasmus, etc.), and the length of different sentences.
Step five- write yourself a prompt.
Based off of step four, you probably found one or two techniques that the author used to create the section that you liked. Your task now is to create a prompt based off of using one (or more) of those techniques.
Step six- use your prompt!
This one is pretty self-explanatory. 🙂
I hope that this prompt is helpful. One of my goals this year is to write and read more, and this prompt is pretty perfect for both. Also(!!) I’ll be putting up some blog posts throughout the year of book-based prompts, so look forward to those!
Happy reading & writing!!