Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose
Rarely do I like a nonfiction book enough to read it from cover to cover and take notes voluntarily. I did for this book because there was some stuff I just didn’t wan to forget. This is good stuff! My notes were as follows:
Close reading: Reading a book “closely” allows you to see beyond the plot, characters,
and ideas in the book.
Words: Word choice tells the reader about the author and shapes the tone of the story. It shows why certain writers endure.
Sentences: Look at the really great sentences! Sentences are what writing is about.
Paragraphs: Paragraphs are the completeness of the work and give it a musical quality, a rhythm.
Narration: Who is listening? On what occasion is the story being told and why? Is the protagonist projecting this heartfelt confession out into the ozone, and, if so, what is
ithe proper tone to assume when the ozone is one’s audience?
Character: Characters are defined by how you describe them, what they say, and what they do.
Dialogue: You can’t and shouldn’t try to make fictional dialogue sound like actual speech.
Details: God is in the details. They make the story and drive it.
Gesture: The description of gesture sets good writing apart from common. Common writing describes common gesture while good writing shakes things up.
Learning from Chekov: Books are still the best way of taking great art and its consolations with us on the bus.
Reading for Courage: The fear of writing badly, of revealing something you would rather keep hidden, of losing the good opinion of the world, of violating your own high standards, or discovering something about yourself that you would just as soon not know, prevent people from writing. Literature is an endless source of courage and confirmation.