Posts in Recommended Reading
It Happened One Doomsday: How to Read Like a Writer

Writing with emotion doesn’t mean you need to create a soap opera story. Emotion can be subtle, overwhelming, positive, and negative. In It Happened One Doomsday, Laurence MacNaughton tells the thrilling story of a weak sorceress determined to save a demon and stop the apocalypse, while keeping his readers smiling. You can learn to keep a dark situation light and use setting to your advantage by reading his novel.

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Once Upon an Autumn Eve: How to Read Like a Writer

Have you ever read a novel with such a vivid setting, you wanted to visit that place or use it to inspire your own stories? Dennis L. McKiernan’s Faery in Once Upon an Autumn Eve is such a place. From McKiernan’s novel, writers can learn how to create a world readers hate to leave and strong female characters.

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Scythe: How to Read Like a Writer

Not all stories have built in conflict. Neal Shusterman managed to find conflict in utopia. From his novel Scythe, writers can learn to find the conflict in seemingly perfect situations, consistently make things worse to hold reader interest, and effectively use journals.

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Elizabeth’s Midnight: How to Read Like a Writer

It’s easy to get lost in complex plots and world building, but not every story needs a web of ideas. Sometimes a story is about one person and their journey. Aaron Michael Ritchey focuses on a single character and plot arc in Elizabeth’s Midnight. His unique, fully developed characters and “what could be worse” plot make his novel linger with readers.

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Cinder: How to Read Like a Writer

Beginnings are challenging. If you’re searching for the best place to start your story, read the first chapter of Cinder by Marissa Meyer. You’ll learn how you can start with action without using violence and how to introduce your characters and world in a way that keeps your story moving and uses description, exposition, and dialogue.

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The Dragon Book: How to Read Like a Writer

If you want to make your story standout from others in your genre, you need to make the tropes and stereotypes your own. The authors of the short stories in The Dragon Book re-imagine the infamous creatures. The anthology also demonstrates how to pace and design a collection.

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The Flower Man by Mark Ludy: How to Read Like a Writer

There are many ways to tell a story. It can be written, spoken, sung, even shown through images. Mark Ludy illustrates how one man can change a community through wordless, vibrant images in The Flower Man. If you need to brush up your characterization and body language techniques, start with this book.

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The Sleeper and the Spindle: How to Read Like a Writer

The Sleeper and the Spindle is a young adult short story transformed into a graphic novel. Written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Chris Riddell, it is an excellent example of how the written word and visual art can come together to create an engaging story. If you’re thinking about combining text and image, or another kind of creative partnership, read this book.

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Fra Keeler by Azareen Oloomi: How to Read Like a Writer

Insanity is a common theme in literary fiction and fear in people. If you’re using this dark, relatable trope, read Fra Keeler to learn how Azareen Van Der Vliet Oloomi uses stream of consciousness, symptoms of madness, and internal conflict, so her readers experience what it’s like to go insane alongside her narrator.

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Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston: How to Read Like a Writer

Most authors have a favorite writer whom they wish to emulate in some manner. However, if your favorite is a classic writer, you may need to pick the aspects of their style you incorporate into your own writing carefully. Today’s readers are not the same as the readers of the past.

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Ghosts by Sophie Calle: How to Read Like a Writer

Sometimes the story we wish to tell is not our story. In Ghosts, Sophie Calle uses a collection of voices to tell the story of missing museum art pieces. Learn how to combine interviews to create a larger story and build distinct character voices from Ghosts.

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When Demons Walk by Patricia Briggs: How to Read Like a Writer

Do you have a book you read over and over because you can’t stop thinking about the characters, world, and story? When Demons Walk by Patricia Briggs is that book for me. The novel lingers with its readers because Briggs breaks a few rules, conventions, and tropes, which you can learn to do too.

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Europeana by Patrik Ourednik: How to Read Like a Writer

When an author wants to create a specific effect or tone, sometimes the traditional layout of text on a page doesn’t work. You need something slightly or vastly different. Patrik Ourednik experiments with form in nonfiction Europeana to generate an objective historical account. Other authors can learn from and borrow his form.

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Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur: How to Read Like a Writer

If you want to take your readers on an emotional journey and focus on the internal conflicts of your characters, read Milk and Honey. Rupi Kaur uses the hurting, the loving, the breaking, and the healing of her life to create an emotional story arc in her poetry collection. Through different points of view, form, and the economy of words, she brings emotional truths to the forefront of her text.

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Born to Run by Christopher McDougall: How to Read Like a Writer

Whether you're interested in running long distances or not, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superalthetes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall is a must read for any aspiring nonfiction writer. McDougall employs concepts, conflicts, characters, and causalities often associated with fiction to share the knowledge he gained while asking "Why does my foot hurt?"

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Alchemy of the Afterlife by Linda Kinnamon: How to Read Like a Writer

If you want to hook readers into your memoir, you need to write it like a story. Linda Kinnamon borrows techniques from fiction to convey her experiences with life after death as a hospice nurse and in her personal life. Read her memoir Alchemy of the Afterlife, to learn how you can make your memoir as compelling as a great novel.

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Emily St. John Mandel: How to Read Like a Writer

Dystopian fiction is a popular current trend. If you want your story to stand out from the crowd, read Station Eleven. Emily St. John Mendel transforms dystopias. Through a twisted timeline, multiple points of view, and the importance of art, she speculates on how society might carry on after a pandemic deadlier than the Spanish Flu.

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Versailles by Kathryn Davis: How to Read Like a Writer

If you find historical events and people inspiring, read Versailles by Kathryn Davis. Davis transforms the famous palace to tell a story larger than the main character, while giving Marie Antoinette the voice and freedom to tell her own story. Discover how you can use these same techniques to enliven your writing.

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Transference by Kate Jonuska: How to Read Like a Writer

Often literary and genre fiction are at odds, but in Transference Kate Jonuska brings the two together through an extremely close third person point of view, snarky humor, and inner character conflict. You can learn how to blend styles by reading books like Transference.

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Self-Help by Lorrie Moore: How to Read Like a Writer

If you want to try out a new writing technique or put your reader in an uncomfortable situation, the short story might be the format for you. Self-Help by Lorrie Moore is a collection of short stories that gives Moore the chance to have her readers walk in another’s shoes through second person point of view and create a variety of character voices.

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