One of the most common pieces of writing advice is to read. Important, but vague. An easy way to analyze novels to become a better writer is to sort what you read into what you don’t like and what you do like. Spend some time thinking–whether alone, in writing, or through conversation–about what makes you like or dislike the writing, and brainstorm ways that the writing could have been improved or changed.
Here are some possible dislikes and likes that you might notice when reading:
What You Don’t Like:
- Boring spots that you skim through
- Unnecessary scenes that don’t advance the plot
- Confusing sub-plots
- Chunky dialogue
- Characters acting outside their character
- Poorly done tropes
- Too much telling, not enough showing
- Too much showing, not enough telling
- Overly flowery prose
- Big words for the sake of big words
- One-dimensional villains
- Lack of distinctive voices
What You Do Like:
- Twists on tropes
- Scenes where you felt like you were a part of that world
- Characters you think about after the book ends
- Clever plot twists
- Good information reveal
- Villains and antagonists that keep you on your toes
- Characters that know what they want
- Characters forced to make sacrifices
- Side-characters that have personalities of their own
- Scenes so intense that you find yourself peeking at the next page
- Protagonists with flaws that hold them back
- Scenes where you felt the emotions conveyed
Good tips here for your first read through before revision.
Think like a reader. Be brutal. Were you bored? Excited? Did you find anything confusing? Chances are, if you spot these, your readers will as well.
That’s where you start.
I would ordinarily put some commentary here and build on it, but I’m more interested in getting posts up on here for once. Sometimes, you have to abandon perfectionism and just get things done, even if you don’t do it well. Sorry for the patchy appearances lately. Still haven’t heard from my ex again, so the dust may be settling. I hope.