The old adage of “practice makes perfect” rings very true with writing.  Practice, practice, practice!!!  Here are some helpful tips for studying life and studying literature.

Studying Life

Sharpen your power of observation by taking descriptive notes on life where you are.  Use all of your senses to describe events, people, things.  What did you hear, smell, feel, taste, and see?

Go to places where people interact with each other, such as stores, fast food joints, restaurant.  Observe how people appear, how they behave, how they interact, or anything unusual about them to glean ideas.  Write what you see, and make long lists of sentences that uses the story elements of characterization, plot, and setting.

Studying Literature

Instead of reading through a novel for entertainment, evaluate it for its content and literary techniques.  Don’t forget to write what you enjoy to read.  Use a folded 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheet of blank paper as a bookmark for books you read. Study books which use many techniques, and go through it several times to evaluate how they accomplished certain aspects such as dialog or description.

Take notes on the blank “bookmark,” and don’t forget to include the book title, author, and the date when you read it.  Write down unique word combinations and descriptions that may provide inspiration to you.  Be careful about plagiarizing though–strive to be creative and as one-of-a kind as you can be.  In fact, when you find a book that really “works,” you’ll probably want to read it multiple times (see prior posts for details).

You could also try rewriting the end of a novel you just read, or reconstruct the summary of a story with a different plot.  As you read, outline novels from beginning to end.  Practice writing summaries of a story to highlight the main points, characters, themes and goals.  Pretend that you’re writing to sell it to someone.

Note which elements you find effective and break it down so you understand how the author did it.  Learn from the mild and “poorly” written book that you and others have read.  First find the elements which did work (and why), as well as the elements which didn’t work for you (and why).  If you can’t find a book that “does it all,”you may want to study books from genres that specialize in certain aspects.  For example, if you’re looking for a way to create more adventure in your writings, consider reading a fantasy book that pull reader into new worlds or an action book in which the characters traveler considerably.