tips for aspiring writing to notice while they read

While You Were Reading – 3 Tips For Aspiring Writers

Have you ever noticed the writing more than the story while you were reading? Here are three tips for aspiring writing to notice while they read.

W.H. Auden said, ‘A real book is not one that we read, but one that reads us.’

Today, this is truer than ever. According to a BuzzFeed News article by Joseph Bernstein, every e-reader or reading-app maker gathers data about its users’ reading behaviour. It can tell which books you buy but don’t read, which books you finish, and how fast you read them. While you’re reading your Kindle, it’s reading you.

Behind the scenes

Canadian e-reader company, Kobo, made its data public in 2014. It provides keen insight into what happens behind the scenes. Did you know that more than half of Canadian and British Kobo readers didn’t finish Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch in 2014? Another interesting fact is that the industry standard finish rate for mystery books is 62%.

Guilty as charged

This got me thinking about the books I’ve never finished. It’s not that they were bad books. My reasons for putting them down are varied. If I have to sum it up in one sentiment, though, it would be that they didn’t hit my sweet spot.


In tennis, you won’t know if you’re hitting the ball well until after you’ve hit it and heard the characteristic ‘thwack-twang’ of it bouncing off your racket’s sweet spot. In the same way, authors won’t know whether they’ve hit the sweet spot of their intended readership until after the book is written. It’s an occupational hazard. Aspiring authors needn’t despair, though. What’s true for tennis is true for writing. The more you practise, the better you’ll be.

3 Tips For Aspiring Writers To Notice While They Read

These 3 tips may help you:

  1. Don’t just write. Rewrite: this is obvious, but important enough to say again. Not only does rewriting give you the opportunity to practise your writing craft, it also helps you to spot the cheesy, boring, or clichéd parts. It helps your sentences sing. Thwack-twang.
  2. Study the greats … and the not-so greats: when you read a book, try to quantify why you found it to be a good or bad read. A practical way of doing this is writing a 200-word book review for each book when you’re done. The limited word count will force you to isolate what the dealmakers and deal-breakers were. You can then apply this to your writing.
  3. Trust your instincts: if something in your manuscript doesn’t ‘sit right’, don’t ignore it. If there’s something I’ve learnt in my writing escapades, it’s to trust my instincts about the niggling parts. If they bother me, they’ll bother my readers.

Happy writing.

Top Tip: Find out more about our workbooks and online courses in our shop.

 by Donna Radley

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Top Tip: Find out more about our workbooks and online courses in our shop.

Posted on: 17th March 2015

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