You’ve heard the old adage, “Leaders are readers,” well, so are writers. In fact, I would venture to say writers who are avid readers, are also likely to be leaders.
One of the best ways to hone your writing skills is to read what other people write. Your goal is not to plagiarize their work or mimic their style. You want to be authentic and legal. You can learn a lot from applying journalism’s 5 W’s and an H – who, what, where, when, why and how – to whatever you read, both fiction and non-fiction. This sounds easy enough, and it is, unless you are engaged and forget your mission. Try using these questions for starters.
Who wrote it?
- Is this person renowned or unknown?
- Is s/he credible, i.e., a subject matter expert in the field?
- What biographical information do you know about the author that might help you to identify with their circumstances, situation or style?
What type of piece is it?
- Is it fiction or non-fiction?
- Would you classify it as romance, science fiction, trade article, etc.?
- Who is the target audience and is it being hit?
Where does the author publish?
- Does s/he use print or electric (e-book, online, etc.)
- Does s/he self publish?
- Does s/he publish through an agent and publishing house?
- What period (fiction) does the author write about? Is the work true to the era?
- Is it current (non-fiction)?
Why does the author write?
- Does s/he tell a story, have a point to make or an agenda?
- Is s/he trying to provide instructions?
- How well does s/he accomplish the mission?
How does the author achieve results?
- How engaging is the work?
- What techniques does s/he employ? Are they successful?
Want to curl up with a good book? You can. It will make you a better writer.