What I didn’t realize then is that those books shaped my world. They provided language, character flaws, drive and determination, conflict and tension, page-turning plots. They made me yearn for more and inspired me to do better. They taught me without having to go to school.
Now when I read a good book, I still get lost in the story. But along the way I take note of catchy phrases and unique words. I catalogue different writing styles and use (or lack) of punctuation. I mark where my heart soars and analyze where it doesn’t. And sometimes, if I’m lucky, a sentence will spark an idea for my character and then I race to jot it down.
I download a new book every two to three days from BookBub, a great site if you use Kindle and a wonderful resource for possible inspiration. It doesn’t seem to matter what I read. Fiction, for pleasure. Inspirational books for the magazine book reviews. If what I read touches me, I can almost always apply it to what I’m writing. And sometimes the instances I read about fit my story so well it’s almost as if the author knows my characters.
Here are some examples:
Whatever Arises, Love That by Matt Kahn
“When healing occurs . . . you deserve more love, not less.”
How many people feel unworthy or unwanted? How many of us, even the ones who have love, could use more love?
At the Edge of the Orchard by Tracy Chevalier
Sadie – “I shouldve known then he wasnt for me.”
Writers commonly use dialect to show lack of education or etiquette. But how much easier to just omit punctuation?
Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland
“Astonishing how he could get mere watercolors so deep and saturated, so like lacquer that they vibrated together as surely as chords of a great church pipe organ.”
I’ve always thought Tiffany lamps were gaudy and lacked finesse. But Susan Vreeland’s description pulled me into the wonder of the art and made me reassess my opinion.
Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley
“I know everyone has dreams of flying, but this isn’t a dream of flying. It’s a dream of floating, and the ocean is not water but wind.”
Metaphors are such common expressions these days, but when an author can create new sensations, I’m entranced.
So, what are you reading? Does the author touch your mind, your heart, your senses? Do you want to be part of the story? Do the characters remind you of anyone you know?
Reading has always been fun for me. I don’t intend to stop anytime soon. And it’s so cool that it helps my writing. Let me know how it helps yours!