The Importance of Critical Reading

To write well, we need to read well. I don’t necessarily mean reading a lot, although that is very important, specifically in one’s genre. By reading well, I mean reading with the goal of understanding how a story is put together. 

So, the first step is to choose a story you want to study. It’s a good idea to choose one in your own genre and one that has been published by a publisher you are targeting. By doing so, you will kill many birds with one stone, to use a well-worn cliché. 

The next step is to highlight what you like in the book and then ask yourself why you think it works. Also highlight what you don’t like in the book and why you think it doesn’t work. 

After you have completed your critical reading, review your notes to determine what you can apply to your own story and what you do not want to apply. The more books you read in this way, the more adept you will become at understanding how a good book is put together.

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5 thoughts on “The Importance of Critical Reading

  1. I do this in an informal way with fiction and non-fiction. It dawned on me several years ago that I was doing it:) I do need to do it more seriously, though, with a fiction book since I am planning on starting a fiction project soon. Thanks for the good tips, MaryAnn!
    Blessings,
    Karen

    January 29, 2010 at 1:24 PM

  2. Good advice, Mary Ann. Yes, it does change the enjoyment of reading when you write fiction, The joy of finding a novel you can read without picking apart is priceless! That’s how I want to write.

    January 29, 2010 at 3:50 PM