Summer Writing Mini-Workshop: On Reading


In reading my old posts, I’ve seen how much I changed my mind was because life changed it for me. That’s what makes more personal posts like a time capsule—a polished journey entry or historical document, depicting not just my life but how I saw my life and where I saw myself.

Know your intended audience. The only way to do this is to read back issues of the publications you are submitting to.

Even if I don’t read an author’s books, I will read what they write (and heed some of their advice) on the craft.

If it’s hard finding the time to read, put your phone away during “waiting times,” such as waiting to see the doctor, and open a book. A book should be your constant companion.

The first (and best) book I ever read on editing was Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Dave King and Renni Browne. It helped me turn long-winded narration into scenes with lively dialogue (i.e., how to show rather than tell). But, like a newspaper reporter, know what to quote directly and what to paraphrase (as too much showing can exhaust your reader).


As much as I love book series, I find my brain stagnates when I read the same type of book (especially by the same author) for too long. Rereading books I cherished as a child has been a delight.

Sometimes, it’s not the content itself you learn from but the idea behind the content.

If you’re a romance novel writer and need help with plot lines, go to the Harlequin romance website and find books written several years back; read the synopses, and make them your own.

Read at least one book about writing per month—in addition to all the other reading you do—and take notes. If there are writing prompts, do them, and never stop brushing up on the basics with the help of online tutorials:

Reading about how to write a certain type of book isn’t the same as reading those certain types of books; I start with the instructions, and then I read the examples.

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