Read With An Eye For Craft

Not only am I writing a story right now, but I am simultaneously reading a few books. Reading with my writing in mind, I stumble upon inspiring tidbits that I can incorporate to make my own story better, stronger.

For example, relationships between middle aged adults are expected to have gone through some hardship and therefore it’s not so traumatic when you hear they have broken up or had a fight. (They are often secondary characters, anyway.) On the other hand, relationship failures between youths are more tragic to the reader; perhaps because first-times hold much more emotional trauma in our lives. Can you think of any stories where youths are not more sympathized with than grown ups?

I want to incorporate that into my work. I can’t forget the secondary characters in my novel that give advice or stay behind are just as flawed as the ones telling their story. I will write short backstories for them and add these into my plot or description. Sometimes a great backstory can fill in several gaps or inspire a change to the plot.

Also look at ways in which the published author foreshadows, sets up a scene; describes a setting, person, or event; or even handles the passage of time. Even if there are parts of the writing that is flawed – grammar errors, plot too predictable, weak villains – you can still take away knowledge from some part that works. Every author has a strength. Or perhaps you learn from their mistakes instead.

When using books as inspiration, though, be sure the words you use are yours. Don’t copy another author word for word, but use their works as the springboard to launch your next scene.

I was reading about a character that had a second life behind the scenes and that opened up a new venue for my villain that I hadn’t thought of. I wrote a scene in my novel just to showcase this. Most importantly, writing that scene was fun. I went back through my outline and added more scenes of this venue to heighten suspense and add foreshadowing. I haven’t written them out yet, but I love the depth it gave to my story and my character.

So pick up a book! Examine it as a writer. See how its parts are crafted together. Then make a note of how you can use it in your next (or current) work.

How does this relate to ficly?

Read more ficlies. Pay attention how they are crafted. You could:

-Try to sequel, keeping the genre and style of the original author.
-Find out how to fit more description in a smaller space.
-Work on some dialogue after you’ve examined how another writer does it.
-Test out the strength of your novel’s scenes by writing them into a ficly.

Most importantly, read until you are inspired. Read with an eye for craft.


  • 32 ^2

    Thanks Elsha!

    -Find out how to fit more description in a smaller space.

    This is why I started writing on Ficly, and I KNOW I’ve come a long way. How to fit a description in a smaller space has been the most valuable for me.

    I would like to add that y0u can create tight connective tissues in your body of work by simply changing single descriptive words. At the end, your story will turn out to be a powerful little pill that’s easy to swallow and get the reader high too.

    Take a simple story of a rose, a young women, and death from poisoned thorns. Now print out your story and grab some colored pens or pencils. Your story should contain YOUR interpretation of the rose, connect those. Your story should contain YOUR interpretation of a young woman, connect those. Your story should contain YOUR interpretation of death and poison, connect those.

    What you should end up with is a visual representation of “Common Threads”. This fun little activity works great for me.


  • THX 0477

    Great post Elsha. We can all continually learn and improve in our writing. I love the sequel idea. Whether you maintain the style, put your own twist on it, or simply use your own style to explore the themes and worlds created by the author it’s generally a worthwhile experiment.