Read (& Critique) to Write Better

Early in my journey to learn how to write fiction, I filled my stories with the huge no-no’s such as…

  • Telling versus Showing
  • Stiff Dialogue
  • Too Many Adverbs
  • Passive Sentences
  • Lack of Description

I’d have people read my stories and point these things out. I’d fix the one instance, but I didn’t understand what they meant and how to fix it in my entire story and was blind to identifying them in my writing.

Then I began to critique other’s writer’s stories and it was like darkness lifted and felt my writing improved. (Though, I still struggle.)

I’ve read many stories still in their rough draft.

There is nothing like reading pages and pages of adverbs to realize how they slow down the story’s pacing and make the sentences feel clumsy.

Or having the story told to you instead of the author showing you what’s happening, making my mind wander and have lack of investment in the characters.

And then when you find a FANTASTIC example and tell the author exactly what they did right.

In education, this is called the teach-back method.

I’ve always heard that writers need to also be readers. This is true, but I argue, writers should be readers and give critiques. Reading both STRONG writing examples and still trying to point out the issues (that may not even be there) and reading writing that has struggles equally will help polish your talent.

In my opinion, all writers need to be readers and help others grow their skills. Not only will this improve your skills, but will also help the entire writing community.

Happy writing!

What are your thoughts?

–Joy

pen_writing-pad

About Joynell Schultz

Writer & lover of all types of speculative fiction. I'm shivering in northern Wisconsin. Learn about my novels here: http://Author.to/JoynellSchultz
This entry was posted in My Writing Journey, Writing Tips & Resources and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Read (& Critique) to Write Better

  1. I agree that writers need to be readers. The thing that is hard for me as a writer is that I have not really consistently written anything in a few months. But, I have been reading a bunch. What are your thoughts on that?

    Liked by 1 person

    • First off, thank you for stopping by, reading this post, and commenting. Feedback means a lot to me.

      Secondly, I have mixed feelings about taking time off from writing. I’ve read that you should write every day. That writing is a skill that you develop, like playing the piano. I feel, though, that sometimes you need to take a break to reorganize your thoughts and prevent burn-out. The issue I see is HOW much time do you take off? Too much and it’s hard to get back into it and it’s easy to toss aside. Ten years ago, I put a crappy novel I wrote aside until I had the energy to look at it again… Well, 9 years passed before I wrote anything. I kick myself — how much improvement could I have made in 9 years? I think many writers journal for that reason, so they are at least writing SOMETHING. So, take a break, but don’t take too long of one. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I have not read many stories in their rough draft, but I have learned a lot from thinking through a story and identifying what I like and don’t like. Not to the level of sophistication you mention, but it really brings home certain points.
    Like characters. Stories are about them. Please make them someone I want to cheer on. Then thinking through what about a character made me want to see them succeed and what made me not care, or worse yet, actively dislike them?
    What made a plot work? What didn’t?
    There’s so much more.
    But it all comes down to reading.
    Weird thing. Some of the biggest learning experiences have been from some of the worst books I’ve read.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So true! Some of my least favorite things I’ve read have taught me the most as well!

      Taking the time to reflect on what you’ve read is the key to learning.

      Thanks for reading & commenting.

      Like

  3. Love this! I know I learnt so much when I started Beta reading. Things that I had never considered before (mainly my overuse of ‘he said’ ‘she said’ and how I tend to rely on a smaller vocabulary. But since then I have grown. Developed. And with each Beta project, I not only learn the types of mistake, but also how to spot them and how to get things right.

    Keep up the amazing posts!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Writing, like life, is always a work in progress! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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