Thursday, March 08, 2007

Analyzing the Writing of Others

How often do you finish reading a book and think, “That was good.” It kept you reading and when you turned the last page, you were satisfied and hoping there would be another with the same characters.

Hopefully, you do that a lot. If so, then pick out one (or two) and do an analysis of it. You can decide what you want to study, but here are some ideas:

Make a list of the characters – the lead, the opposition or antagonist, the sidekick or best friend, the red herrings (if it’s a mystery), the character who hinders the lead or blocks her/his way, and those characters who are color for the background.

Note what page the first turning point takes place. Is there a major turning point around the middle or two-thirds of the way through the book? What is the climax point? Now take those page numbers see where they fall in relation to the entire book.

The middle is where a lot of books sag, so note what things happen in this section to keep the book forward, to keep the action up.

We all know there needs to be a hook to get things going in the beginning of the book. How about hooks throughout the book? Does every chapter end with a page turner hook? If not, then how often was there a hook that made you keep reading?

In addition to the action plot line, what was the emotional story? How was it resolved?

There are a lot of other things you may want to look at, like how did the author employ the five senses? Was the setting vivid and memorable? What was the length of the chapters? What was your estimated word count for the entire book? Was there a ticking clock? Did you feel the lead’s live or desire was in danger?

Take the book apart and figure out why you liked it so much. Then apply what you’ve learned to your own writing.

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