Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Find Yourself an Expert

Although I majored in English in college, I sometimes still struggle with the basics of the English language.

I'm big enough to admit that.

My vocabulary is not as broad as I would like it to be. My knowledge of grammar is lacking. I find commas completely elusive. And dear lord, don't get me started on spelling. (Thank God for auto correct, is all I can say.)

I'm obviously not the perfect writer. I know I will never be the perfect writer. However, I am a pretty darn-good reader. I love reading, and I try to read as voraciously as I can. Last year, when I began writing more seriously, I decided to use my reading to help improve my writing.

It worked.

In particular, I was curious about how to make my dialogue tighter. I wanted to also make sure I was using quotation marks correctly, and of course, master the elusive comma if possible. I took out a random book from my stack of lovelies, those books that are waiting for me to read, turned to a random page, and tried to see how that writer used dialogue. 

Reading with the eyes of a writer changed my reading completely. I feel like I'm being taught by an expert every time I read. I use it in my teaching as well. With students who weren't sure how to use punctuation, I took them through the pages of the book they were currently reading. I could visibly see the lightbulb go off in that kiddos head. Just like it had gone off in mine. 

So, I encourage you to Read, Read, Read with the eyes of a writer. 

I'll warn you though, if you're not doing this already...get ready to be lifted to heights of amazement and mind-blowing learning, but also be ready to be horribly disappointed. I think I've disliked more books than I ever have before, because I now read through my books with the eyes of a writer. Especially the second-in-a-series-bridge-book. Those in particular, tend to be disappointing. However, when I find a good book, with amazing prose, an incredible turn of phrase that makes me sit back in awe, it's worth it. I take notes.

So, go! Off with you! Read, read, read, and find yourself an expert to learn from!

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