I am an analyst?

I have never thought to think of myself as one, but I happened to talk with a writing friend and we started discussing books that we’ve read. In my case, a lot of mammoth books. After a while I got around talking about how, when I read a book, I like to write down expressions from them for reference and sometimes follow only one character’s appearances throughout the book. My friend looked at me with surprise and said she only reads the story. That baffled me, because I thought all writers do that…

Which led me to a question – writers, how do you read books?

I do it this way. I have a notebook on my side most of the time and mostly while I read I jot down expressions that catch my eyes. I don’t write down things that is obvious and recognizable as unique, but the ways things are described and how feelings are expressed or how the writer has expressed “said” without using it. Though I agree that “said” is often best replaced with “said”, it is interesting to observe what actions it has been replaced with. For example: “I don’t think he knows,” Saul jolted his head. I do this, because I’m not native English speaker and thus this improves my writing skills. At least I hope it will.

The other thing I tend to observe is how and when characters are brought in the text and how they are edged into the background through description. All the writing books recommend to describe your characters in the beginning of their arrival and I try to understand, how. I have seen some that horrify me, such as they have their MC look at the man or woman and then load all the description in the text in a huge block. But I have also read a piece, where the introduction was done gradually from general to specific and that was very enjoyable. Also happened on a story, where I realized in the end that the whole story only said that the man I was reading about is tall and walks funny. There was very limited description, straight forward description, but it didn’t bother, because after looking the book through again, his character was nicely revealed through his actions. Same way I keep eye on descriptions of places as well as community. Sometimes character playing with light blue empty cup while staring at it blankly can reveal more than full page of straight-to-face “he thought of…”

I do read books just for the kick as well, but I thought it was common thing to do for writers – you read, you note down what catches the eye. I don’t always do it, but if I’m writing something, then I usually do it, because I fear being short in expressions. Plus sometimes reading that list over inspires some scenes and from there new possibilities…


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