Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Writing Tip Tuesday

I always end my school presentations by offering several pieces of advice.

One of them is this: If you want to be a better writer, you need to do three things:
  1. Read
  2. Read
  3. Read
I'm always shocked and a bit annoyed when I meet children's writers who don't read children's books.

But they are in the minority.

For the majority who do read, I recently came across a piece of advice from author Alison Smith (as quoted in Off the Page by Carole Burns):

I would reread my favorite writers and I'd say, this time when you read this book, look at how Charlotte Bronte structured a chapter. And this time when you read this book, let's look at dialogue and which parts are spoken and which parts are told indirectly. And it was really exciting. It was like going behind the scenes of your favorite book and seeing them again.

I think this is a great way to read as a writer and to learn by reading - a focused approach.

This is exactly the way I recommend approaching revision - by focusing on one element at a time - to read through the work thinking of only one thing at a time rather than the scatter-shot, try-to-catch-everything-at-once approach.

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