As a reader, a book will always be my joy. A friend. A place to learn. A journey out. A testing ground.
As a writer, a book will forever be my teacher. I want to remember the rhythm of the books I love. I want to carry with me the steady unfolding of a character and her world. I want to better my own efforts by reading what already exists. I want to revel in the beauty, the style, the impact certain books have had on me.
I keep a folder of photo-copied pages from various reads. Sometimes it’s a chapter, sometimes one single page. I use it as a way to learn and remember. Here’s the story with a breezy tone that made hard topics and everyday life conversational. Here’s the one that kept me glued to the page. I copy high points and turning points. Scenes with lots of action and moments that show a quick passage of time. I hold onto lines with interesting descriptions, pages that feel like the heart of a story, and others that are simply a sample of a book I don’t want to forget.
What lessons have you taken from the books you’ve read?
Jessica Lawson says
I love that you keep a folder like this! Oh, how I wish I’d started that sort of thing years ago. Most recently (eh-hem, that is, TODAY), I read Jason Reynolds’ LONG WAY DOWN. Read the whole thing in one go, glued to the sparse, powerful verse. Pacing, you see, is one of my biggest challenges. Always, always, always. I’m a rambler by nature and my characters (even the quiet ones, whose brains are always racing with dreams and worries) are too chatty for publishing before revision attempts to tone them down 🙂 It’s novels like LONG WAY DOWN that remind me that less is often more, and finding the right words can up your craft like nobody’s business. I feel like pacing will continue to be something that I always need to work on–to pay extra close attention to~ and this is why READING is such an important part of my writing. These books I read–they are my role models, my mentors, my coaches. Great post, Caroline 🙂
Thank you! It’s so funny. I struggle with pacing, too, as in I tend to race when writing prose (perhaps because verse is so spare). I’m really trying with this new draft to luxuriate in the moment, knowing I might need to cut later.
I’m embarrassed to say I haven’t yet read any Jason Reynolds book. I know. I need to get to it.
Jessica Lawson says
I was remiss in mentioning that MAY B. was a huge inspiration to me for pacing~ it was the first verse novel I read with my child and it just blew both of our minds how much setting, character, and plot could be conveyed with the right words. Thank you for all of your books, but the reading experience I had with my daughter with MAY B. was really special 🙂
You’ve made my day!!! Thank you, Jessica.
Betsy Crawford says
What a wonderful idea! I am going to copy you.