How to Be a Better Reader So You Can Be a Better Writer

Posted on August 19, 2013



You already know that reading helps you develop your writing. However, have you thought about ways in which you can develop your reading style to learn even more about writing? Here are some tips for ways you can adapt your role as a reader to actively pursue improvement as a writer.

  1. Pay attention to style. Notice what you like and don’t like. Does the writer use a conversational style, or is it more formal? See if there are longer paragraphs or if each page look “streamlined” for reading ease. One author may use sentences that are long and flowing, while the next prefers keeping theirs brief and precise. What styles seem to be “standard” for particular genres or subjects? Ask yourself which ones work better for you, the reader, and which ones don’t seem as effective. Absorbing others’ styles will help you learn what is out there in order to develop, strengthen, and grow comfortable with your own unique tone.
  2. Observe word choices. Make note of the words that pop out at you in a book. Some may be extra descriptive, helping you to really feel like you’re part of the work; others might just be extra successful in conveying the author’s meaning to you. Jot down words you are unfamiliar with and look them up. Expanding your vocabulary is always an important way to improve your writing abilities. Learn to tell the difference between the right word and the “almost right word” as well as the right word and a great word.
  3. Study the content. Think deeply about what you read. How does the writer present his or her ideas? What overall message is the book sending? Think about how the author is or isn’t successful. As you learn from them, you also have an opportunity to discover how you can best teach others with your own works. If the writing is fictional, look for plot holes or character development flaws. No one is perfect. Your goal isn’t to become negative, but to be critical so that you can constructively criticize your own manuscripts and be a better self-editor. Don’t just read—analyze and reflect.
  4. Think about how each book is organized. Fictional or nonfictional, how does each writer choose to organize his work? What works well for certain genres that wouldn’t work for others? Do you prefer chronological ordering for books, or does your work require a different kind of organization? Look at how the book progresses; consider how it flows. Decide what you want and don’t want in your own writing.
  5. Read different genres. Another critical aspect of growing as a writer is to read… Read everything you can get your hands on. It doesn’t matter if you are writing exclusively for one particular genre, about one subject, or multiple ones: each book can teach you something new about writing or how to be a writer. If you write fiction, read some nonfiction—the material may be helpful for researching your latest work. If you write nonfiction, expand your horizons with a fictional piece; you may be surprised at the educational or informational qualities some fiction works possess.

As a final word—read constantly! Take any free time you have away from other responsibilities—and your writing—to read. Just as the frequency of your writing can make you a better writer, the frequency of your reading can make you a better reader. And, lastly…don’t lose your love of reading. Remember why you fell in love with language in the first place—reading and writing it—and stay focused. Your love of reading will reflect in the quality of your writing.

Rachel Schade, Writer, Editor, and Publishing Coordinator, Asta Publications

Asta Publications has a long history of helping writers tell their stories and get published. Since 2004, Asta Publications has helped hundreds of authors bring their book concepts to life and we are ready to help you too! Our dedication to our authors is unmatched. We deliver first-class products and services that are accurate, high quality, and exceed our authors’ expectations.

Posted in: Publishing