Monday, March 14, 2016

Translating Reading into Fine Writing by Susan Reinhardt

The 7th Blogoversary celebration continues! Susan J. Reinhardt lends her insight regarding the connection between reading and writing in the following post. One of my very first blogging friends, Susan cheered me on in the early days (Way back in 2009!) and continues to inspire and encourage to this day.

Susan's throwing in a bonus and giving away an ebook of her first novel, The Moses Conspiracy, so don't forget to check out the giveaway details below.

Translating Reading Into Fine Writing 

by Susan J. Reinhardt 

As writers, we're admonished to read excellent books in our genre. Many post about how they analyze an author's style, plot, characters, and setting. As a Seat-of-the-Pants writer, this comes about as naturally as standing on my head.

So, how do I translate what I'm reading into principles I can integrate into my writing?

1) I read the story for pure enjoyment. If it grabs me and takes me on a breathtaking ride, I go with it.

2) After I finish, I evaluate how the book affected me. Did I keep getting pulled out of the story or was I engaged the entire time? Did the author create characters that were sympathetic or did I want to slap them silly? Was the ending satisfying or did it leave me feeling cheated?

3) When I narrow down the aspects of the book I liked and the ones I found unsatisfactory, I ask myself, "how did she/he do it?" Did the author make all those historical references a natural part of the story or did they pound me over the head with facts? What techniques did the author use to evoke an emotional response in me, the reader?

4) I then compare the methods against my WIP. I'll re-read sections and see if they're effective or need more work.

5) If I were reading my book, would I want to have a sequel or be disappointed at the end?

Writers: How do you translate what you read into tips for your own writing?  

Readers: What makes a book go from so-so to so awesome?

Susan J. Reinhardt is a multi-published author and blogger. Her books include three full-length novels, The Moses Conspiracy, The Scent of Fear, and Out of the Mist, as well as The Christmas Wish, a novella for all seasons. Her passion for faith and freedom are reflected in her characters and stories. 

She's a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and represented by Joyce Hart, of Hartline Literary Agency. A widow, stepmom, daughter, and follower of Jesus Christ, Susan resides in Pennsylvania and is active in her church. Her interests include reading, bargain hunting, and searching for small treasures in antique shops.

Visit Susan on her blog or on Facebook

Giveaway Info 
Susan is giving away one ebook of the first in The Moses Trilogy, The Moses Conspiracy

1) Open to U.S. residents only.  
2) Please leave your email address with your comment. 
3) I'd appreciate you following by Google Friend Connect or Facebook (see sidebar). 
4) Ends Friday, March 18 at noon EDT. Winner will be notified by email and have 36 hours to respond or another name will be chosen. 

What are you reading this week

Happy reading and writing,


 Photo info: Free Images


  1. I read books for enjoyment too. If one was especially good in something that I needed help in, I'd go back and read it again to study that part of the craft of writing.

    I'm going to pass on the giveaway. I have a lot on my TBR stack right now.

  2. It's hard to see the mistakes in our own work, but if we can see it in another book, that helps.

  3. Natalie,
    That's a good way to do it. I do the very same. I hear you about the TBR pile! There's one here too. :)

    Yes, I agree. They can be great teaching tools! :)

    Happy writing,

  4. I still read for enjoyment, but if a book falters, that dumps me out of it. I never thought to note exactly why though.

  5. I mainly read to learn something, not so much for enjoyment only... although I can immensely enjoy a good non fiction book or biography. I am always amazed at people's writing skills and I learn a lot from reading English language books!

  6. I read books for enjoyment, though sometimes I try to analyze what I liked about it and how the writer approached certain aspects of the story.

  7. Susan, I love your questions. I read for two reasons; to learn or to be entertained. I will say I read differently now that I'm a writer. I try to be myself, but it always helps to have excellent books from others as examples of how to do it.

  8. I read for enjoyment too. I analyze afterwords too.

  9. *waves to amigo* *waves to Susan* Great to see the lovely Susan here. And such great tips. I'm learning how to do this. I have clipped this to my Evernote. Thank you, Susan. I hope life is great for you. Amigo, I have been so down about my Cloud boy. I owe you a reply. Can't wait to share about the conference with you. Super excited.

  10. I couldn't agree with this post more. And I really try not to give advice about writing. I'm no expert and the way I write is my way, not how someone else approaches the craft. Thanks for this. It was perfect.

  11. Alex,
    I didn't either until a few years ago. And even with thoughtful reflection, I can't always put my finger on it, you know? :)

    We can always pick something up, no matter what genre, even if it's observing how we don't want to write. Glad you could stop by to see us! :)

    Do you find yourself analyzing more if you don't like the book? I do sometimes. Always learning something, aren't we? :)

    Susan S.,
    Glad you liked the post! Susan has a lot of insight that is always helpful to me. Funny how we see things now from both sides of the fence! :)

    I do both as well. I think as writers sometimes we're taking it in and processing it without even thinking, too. :)

    So sorry about your beloved horse. That's always a hard thing. So glad you had so many good times! Also glad you found Susan's tips helpful. Hugs! xo

    So glad you liked the post! I too, appreciate Susan's thoughtful insight here. :)

    Happy writing,

  12. I used to read for enjoyment only, but I noticed my writing got a lot better after I analyzed what I read and applied what worked to my manuscripts.

  13. Hi, Everyone! I just got home a short time ago and popped over here. :)

    Thanks for having me on your blog, Karen. It's always a delight to chat with you and your readers. I appreciate all the comments and hope the post added to your writer information bank.

    God bless,

  14. Medeia,
    It's interesting to see how our writing grows from spending time reading, isn't it? :) Thanks for weighing in!

    It's always a pleasure to have you share your thoughts here. So glad you came over this week! :)

    Happy writing,

  15. I can't handle books that talk down to me. I just took one back to the library; started, couldn't finish. The writer is supposedly an NYT Bestseller, but I couldn't quite see why. :D

    Anyway, the best ones don't "pound you over the head with facts (I like that)" or over explain. I think it's kind of like counterfeit money; you know it when you see it. Or feel it.

    I like your tips, Susan.

  16. Hi Susan and Karen. A book becomes awesome when it makes me want to run upstairs and read chapters before bed. More times than not, I stay up wayyyyy too late reading it, too! If a writer uses beautiful descriptions, such as the late New England writer Gladys Taber, it inspires me to describe with gusto as well.
    My email is Thanks for the interview, Karen. I'm very familiar with Susan and wish her the absolute bet. Susan

  17. Enjoyment is my first goal when I read, but as both an author and an editor, it is tough to shut off my natural inclination to scrutinize line by line. I know a book is amazing when I forget to do that!

  18. Hi Karen - great to see Susan here - I'm afraid I just write - but when I actually write a memoir (is my guess that's what it will be!) then I will be interested to see if there's much difference between my blog posts and the chapters ... probably some tightening up.

    I mostly read to learn from now - some may be novels or historical type novels - a degree of reality in them ... and I 'research' for the blogposts ...

    Certainly I'm going to read more and be ruthless - if I don't like it - out it goes ... and I do hate bad grammar or punctuation in professional publications - drives me nutty ... cheers Hilary

  19. Rhonda,
    I know what you mean. There have been a handful of books I just couldn't stick with over the years too. Yeah, I don't like being pounded over the head either! The counterfeit money thing really does describe it. :)

    Susan W.,
    So I am not the only one staying up way too late reading! :) I've never heard of that author. Will have to check her books out. Got you on the list. Thanks for coming to see us!

    I hear you, I do the same. I pick up on errors, or words used often throughout, and things like that. It's a tough habit to ignore since we use it for our work, right? :)

    Nothing wrong with just writing! And you always have such wonderful things to say. :) Bad punctuation and grammar, yes, that's one of my pet peeves too. Glad to come to see Susan and I.

    Happy reading and writing,

  20. I read for enjoyment first, then as a learning tool. There is so much great writing out there. I sometimes feel sad because there aren't enough days and years left to read all those great books.

  21. When writing, if I get stuck, the first thing I do is pick up a book. Nothing is more inspiring than reading a good book or even an almost good book. It always helps me get back to work.

  22. Joylene,
    This is most often what I do too. As far as not getting to read all the good ones - I feel the same way! Need to figure out how to carve out a bit more reading time somehow. :)

    Now there's a good tip! Reading really can help get over those hurdles, can't it? Glad you brought that up. :)

    Happy weekend,

  23. Susan did an excellent job explaining how she uses what she reads in what she writes. I liked reading about her system. :)


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