Every Fire Is A Lesson Learned

Monday, June 30, 2014

via pinterest

I mentioned in a note this morning that I like to glean something from every book I read. Like every other potentially dissectable topic, it's now become a blog post topic. You're welcome. XD

It's a well-known principal that (1) you cannot write without reading and (2) all writing skills are learned from the [dead] authors before you. Well. Those are nice statements, but how do you apply them? Do you read a load of books and expect to become great by osmosis? Do you read lists on "how to write well"?

[I'd normally give some attempt at wit here, but I'm feeling blatant today.] Of course not!

1. Grab a notebook and pen.
Make sure the pages are thick and the pen writes smooth. Writing is not easy, and the process is only deterred by poor tools.

2. Pick up a book you admire style-wise.
Some of my favorite books are To Kill A Mockingbird  and The Grand Sophy, but these books are not written in a style similar to my own. Instead, I'll grab The Eagle of The Ninth, The Fellowship of The Ring, and Till We Have Faces. Recently I've also been snatching Plenilune as well (if you can "snatch" a PDF that is), because I'm not very good with description and I need to be forced to give my readers a glimpse of the world in my head.

3. Read.
This is perhaps both the simplest and hardest step. It's just reading on one hand, but on the other you've got to try to pull out what it is about that book that makes you love it. Once you've pinpointed it, write it down.

4. Write
So you've got your list. What now? You use the details you've written down and apply them to your writing. I've noticed Lewis has a particularly honest style, and he almost talks to his readers. This is somewhat unique to Till We Have Faces, but there again it is that particular book's style that I'd like to replicate in a way. For The Eagle of The Ninth, I love the dialogue and the character development. Truly, it's brilliant. The Fellowship of The Ring has taught me countless things about world developing. And Plenilune is forcing me to describe atmosphere, colours, details more than I instinctively would. Every book you read has something to offer: gather it!

Let me clear one thing up before you all go and plagiarise: I don't mean to say you literally copy a particular author. I don't mean you ought to imitate just one author's style. But from what other source can we learn? Shave bits of metal off others' styles that particularly fit you, and when you've got a collection, melt them down and start hammering it into words. Even if that means learning what not to do from a book you don't like (why don't you like it? Use that bit of information), use the materials laid before you. That's what writing is: pulling from other authors. There's nothing new under the sun.


  1. This is a really good post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  2. Smooth pen. It is nice someone else gets how important that is to getting your thoughts on paper.


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