How Reviewing Books Can Improve Your Writing

Greetings again from the mind of an Indie Author.

Over the past six months, I have begun to take on people's review requests and believe me, since listing myself on a few directories, there've been a few. I'm currently working my way through my reviewing list and I realized that I haven't blogged about one of the most useful things that I've learned so far.

How Reviewing Books Can Improve Your Writing

They say practice makes perfect. Maybe it does. However, I find that reviewing the works of others, particularly those in my specialist genre, has helped me to not only understand the intricacies of book writing but to improve my work in significant ways.

1) Learning to understand the differences in Style:

I've learned how to identify the differences between my personal writing style and that of the Author whose work is on the screen before me.

Identifying these differences, be they in the flow of the writing, character description or scene setting, plays a key part in a person's progress as a writer.

2) Learn what Hooks You to a Book:

Perhaps, like myself, you're addicted to a certain book genre, or maybe to specific personality types when it comes to characters. By studying different books and analyzing their core components, I've found myself gaining knowledge of what I personally like to see in a book. I've since been able to harness this knowledge, in order to implement changes in my own work.

When I read articles like this, I often find myself wondering why examples are not given to bullet points, so I shall do my best to provide.

My greatest love when it comes to reviewing are the characters. They cannot be beaten. I love books where the characters lead the story, beckoning you into their secret world and creating change, be it for better or worse. The best characters for me are the ones that have a unique trait that no other character I've seen possesses. 

In one novel I read, this came in the form of the lead heroine having a strangely shaped birthmark, which I then learned was crucial to the plot of the story. This led me to question if there was anything significant that my main characters could have represented in a physical way. The answer (of course) was yes. Physical ideas like scars, birthmarks, and other things that the reader can easily picture, do have the power to add depth and intrigue to your heroes/villains.

3) Learn what your Biggest Pet Peeves are:

We've all been there. We begin a new book, wondering what mysteries lie between the folds of its pages when we find ourselves unable to continue the read. Why might that be? Book pet peeves.

My biggest pet peeves for books include:
  • Details that have no relevance to the storyline
  • Bad grammar and general usage of the English language
  • Overuse of adverbs (also referred to as crutch words.)

Review enough books and such examples of pet peeves will begin to work to your benefit. When I went back to my own writing, I was shocked by how I instantly began to critique my work, searching for these same things. By observing books through this more analytical approach, I am learning new ways to improve my skills as a writer and storyteller.

Reviewing books has been a positive change for me; one that has allowed me to learn and progress.

Why not create a review page on your blog (with guidelines on what you'd be comfortable reviewing) and give it a go, to see if it can be beneficial for you.

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