Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Reading Like A Writer

I was at the Christian Writers' Conference in Glorieta, New Mexico. Still wet behind the ears and struggling with the concept that maybe, just maybe, God was telling me that I had more than one book to write. I'd signed up for some instruction that I thought would be helpful to me in writing the book that eventually became The Tender Scar: Life After The Death Of A Spouse. But there were some gaps in my schedule, so I signed up to take Alton Gansky's course in "writing edgy fiction."

I learned a lot from Al in that few days. Some of the lessons were so elementary that I'm ashamed to mention them, others wouldn't become meaningful to me for months, even years--sort of like algebra when you finally "get it." But I remember one thing he said, and it's renewed in my mind on a daily basis. "Once you begin writing, you'll never read a book the same way again."

How true! I've always enjoyed novels. I still do. But now I find myself saying, "Why did Robert B. Parker put that comma there? Was that a point of view shift in this early book by Jack Higgins? Man, I wish I could jack up the stakes for my protagonist the way Michael Palmer does." You get the picture.

This gets back to the sermon I've preached here before: If you're going to write, you have to read. But read like a writer. Learn what the author has done right--and wrong. Then go back to your computer and start putting it into practice.

Thanks, Al--and all the other authors and editors who've helped me during the past three years. I appreciate your unselfishness in sharing your knowledge of the craft, with me and with so many others whom God has called to write.

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