In a class I was teaching recently, a student asked me an unexpected question: How do I read more effectively? He told me he loved reading and he certainly had opinions about the books he read, but he didn’t know how to translate those opinions into a method to improve his own writing.

I wanted to give him a starting point, an easy way to pull back the curtain to view the inner workings of a story he was reading. So, I developed a guide to help him focus his attention on essential story elements, allowing him to think about how the author used the tools of craft to tell story. I’d love to share this with all of you.

Seven Days to Read Like a Writer

 

What is Seven Days to Read Like a Writer?

Close reading helps me focus on the essential building blocks of story. This is the way I uncover how my favorite stories tick. When I’m reading a story, I ask Why and How to learn how other authors use storytelling techniques to keep readers engaged.

Stephen King told us, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” But, as my student realized, simply reading isn’t enough. We need to read as writers, evaluating the story as we go.

Seven Days to Read Like a Writer is an email series I created based on the questions I developed with my student in mind. I hope it will help you boost your writing skills through close reading. Next week, we’ll review one novel with writers’ eyes. We’ll examine the choices the author made to look at what worked and what didn’t work as well. Then you’ll be able to scoop up the techniques you find most effective and use them in your own writing.

 

Join me…it’s free!

For seven days beginning April 9, each email message from me will cover one topic such as characterization or dialogue. There will be links to the messages that came before. If you miss one or want to revisit previous messages, this list makes it easy to go back.

 
Each day will focus on a different story element such as opening paragraphs, dialogue, and characterization with real examples. I wanted to use a novel fresh in my mind, so I chose Maile Meloy’s Do Not Become Alarmed. From the book jacket:

From a beloved, award-winning writer, the much-anticipated novel about what happens when two families go on a tropical vacation – and the children go missing.

 
When Liv and Nora decide to take their families on a holiday cruise, everyone is thrilled. The ship’s comforts and possibilities seem infinite. The children – two eleven-year-olds, an eight-year-old, and a six-year-old—love the nonstop buffet and the independence they have at the Kids’ Club. But when they all go ashore in beautiful Central America, a series of minor misfortunes leads the families farther and farther from the ship’s safety. One minute the children are there, and the next they’re gone.

 
What follows is a riveting, revealing story told from the perspectives of the adults and the children, as the once-happy parents – now turning on one another and blaming themselves – try to recover their children and their lives.

 
Celebrated for her ability to write vivid, spare, moving fiction, Maile Meloy shows how quickly the life we count on can fall away, and how a crisis changes everyone’s priorities. The fast-paced, gripping plot of Do Not Become Alarmed carries with it an insightful, provocative examination of privilege, race, guilt, envy, the dilemmas of modern parenthood, and the challenge of living up to our own expectations.

 

Questions?

Q: I write memoir (or fantasy or young adult or essays or…) Can I sign up for this program? Yes! Writers in any genre will benefit from deepening their close reading skills.

Q: When do I receive my first message? This email series begins April 9. Or if you sign up after April 9, the next day. You’ll find links to all previous messages in that first email.

Q: How much is this program? It is FREE. Really.

Q: Is there a deadline to join? No. I recommend joining as soon as possible so you can take full advantage of building this foundation, but join any time until April 15 and still have access to all of the messages.

Q: Do I need a special login or password? Nope. You’ll receive the messages in your inbox each morning. Be sure to check your spam folder or the promotions tab in your inbox.

Q: Can I send Seven Days to Reading Like a Writer to a friend? Absolutely! This link will take them to the sign-up form so they can receive the messages in their inbox.

Q: I already get your creative writing newsletter. Do I need to sign up? Thank you! No need to sign up again. You’ll automatically receive this special email series in your inbox starting April 9.

Q: Will the messages be posted to your blog? The only way to get them is through the opt in form below.

Sign up here!

If you can’t see or click on the “Sign Up” button above, please click here to join.

I’m looking forward to sharing this information with you, day by day!

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