Last week I talked a little bit about what reading can teach you as a writer. There’s also one or two other things that happen when you analyze a favorite book to figure out how it works.
- It can be terrifying to realize how brilliant the author really is. There are some authors who pull off feats that seem beyond that of a normal person. I generally have this experience when I think about Possession by A.S. Byatt – yeah there’s some content in that book that isn’t my favorite. But to pull off not only multiple points of view in multiple centuries, but to write the poetry of two separate characters with two radically different styles? I’m not sure I’m ever going to have what it takes to pull off something like that but…
- You also learn that they construct their books one word and one sentence at a time, just like you do – and sometimes they are average, normal, even (gasp!) occasionally clunky sentences. I was doing a close reading of a book which I, as a reader, have always loved – but once I started picking it apart I realized that I would have jettisoned the prologue, and well, there’s a confusing sentence in the first chapter, and…it’s always extremely heartening to realize that maybe you don’t have to write the perfect book in order to write a great one.