Tuesday’s Tutor: Learning to Write by Reading

Easy as A, B, C . . . from BB

I don’t know about you, but I’m still reeling from the outpouring of information at the LTUE three-day conference held Feb. 14-26, 2013 (Light, the Universe and Everything, for any who are unfamiliar with it).  I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to thank at least a handful of the participants by sharing my take on what they offered.

An excellent panel on “How to Read to Learn Writing,” consisting of Adam Meyers, Laryssa Waldrom, Emily Sorensen, Christopher Loke, and Tyler Whitesides, reminded me of several points I’d like to share with my students, my blog readers, and all the LTUE participants who just couldn’t make it to every session all three days.  Among other excellent ideas, they proposed the following to improve your own writing:

1.  Don’t read only “your” genre, but expose yourself to other genres.  Specifically go to the “originals” of specific genres, and the really old masters like Chaucer, Shakespeare, Ovid, etc.

2.  Read what you’ve already read.
a.  The first time, read as a fan, to find out “what happens.”
b.  Second read through notice how the author made you feel what you felt.
c.  Third read, figure out why the author made you feel that way.

3.  Read to examine POV (Point of View).  How is the story told through the POV? Could you replicate such a stance?  If you’re not sure, figure out how you could do the same thing.

4.  Don’t “just” read: rewrite.  Rewrite scenes from “good” books, attempting to copy the style, tone, rhythm, etc., into a scene from your life and/or book.

5.  Read everything you can lay hands on within your sub-genre.  Figure out the “rules” for that type of writing.

6.  Analyze something in a popular genre.  “Rewrite” it into a different genre.  Vampires in one book, might become faeries, farmers, skeletons, pirates, horses, or giants in another.

7.  Go to a library or book store and read the first sentence (or even the first paragraph) in many, many, many books, all at once.  What did you learn?

8.  Most importantly, Live in order to write.  Expand your horizons by doing.  Expand by being.  Go to an art show.  A ballet.  A symphony.  An improvisation troupe performance.  Go sky diving.  Brush up your French, Spanish, Latin, whatever.  Hit that bucket list and do five things from it in a week.  ENJOY feeling alive by expanding.

Why are you just sitting there?  Go read something!

BIO: Brenda Bensch, M.A., is a teacher of multiple decades teaching in Utah’s university, college, high school and community ed. classrooms (English, fiction and non-fiction writing, drama, humanities, etc.)  Brenda writes YA fantasy, adult historical, articles, essays, poetry, adaptations, plays and screen plays.  She invites you to “Ask The Teacher” at http://BenschWensch.wordpress.com

Brenda Bensch


or on The ABC Writers Guild at www.benschwensch.wordpress.com

See you day-after-tomorrow for Thursday’s Thirteen



Filed under Teacher

4 responses to “Tuesday’s Tutor: Learning to Write by Reading

  1. Wow Brenda those are some great tips! I’ll have to work a little harder in my reading from here on out.

  2. Excellent post, Brenda! That’s a panel I missed at LTUE. Thanks for the summary.

  3. You’re welcome, Diann. BTW, I enjoyed the panel YOU were on as well—so thanks to you!

  4. And, Maren, you’re welcome too. I thought that panel was terrific—it gave me some new ideas on reading to learn to write better.

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