Nano Tip #21: Writers Re-read

Being a writer should change your daily life. You should scan the newspaper for story ideas, deconstruct old fairy tales in the shower, and eavesdrop shamelessly in the name of dialog development.

And being a writer should also change the way you read.


The next time you read a scene that makes your socks roll up, make yourself stop and learn.

Even if it interrupts your readerly pleasure, take a moment to wonder. How did the author just make you cry? Which elegant phrase or shameless trick jerked those tears from you? At what point in that action scene did your heart start pounding? What was the exact moment that you went from hating this character to liking them?

One of your jobs as a writer is to take novels apart and see how they work. Don’t go for the easy enjoyment of letting the words wash over you. Instead analyze and nitpick. Get your hands dirty.

Writers re-read.

Okay, I’m off to NCTE in Philly, so that’s it for today! Many amazing writers and I will be doing a benefit for the Philadelphia Free Library summer reading program while we’re there. Please come and support your local library!

Sunday, November 22 1:00-3:00PM
Laurie Halse Anderson, Jay Asher,
T.A. Barron, Sarah Dessen,
Steven Kluger, Justine Larbalestier,
David Levithan, Lauren Myracle,
Jacqueline Woodson and me!
Children’s Book World
17 Haverford Station Rd.
Haverford, PA

Don’t forget to check out Justine’s Nano Tips. See you in two days!

18 thoughts on “Nano Tip #21: Writers Re-read

  1. Argh. no more pleasure reading! Just Kidding. This makes total sense who better to learn from than writers that make you react to their writing. So Cool!

  2. The time it takes me to read a novel has gotten longer and longer over the years due to all the rereading and staring off into the middle distance, contemplating a sentence!

  3. Yes! I reread every book that really touches me. I have spent hours arguing with teachers that say rereading a book has no point to it. 😀 I also skip around when I reread, going first to the end, and then to the beginning. It works really well, because the plot doesn’t distract me.

  4. Huh, I think I’ve always done that, but I always get a kick out of understanding why things work and how they work. And I’m still a faster reader than most people, guess that I’ve just worked out a good way to read.

  5. I haven’t really used this strategy too often, except when re-reading Harry Potter books to find every quirky trait of Luna Lovegood. I may use it more in the future, though…

  6. Ping to Team Toshi Banana

    That is hilarious I love that your dog dresses up as things from amazing books. That is so cute. I really love Luna Lovegood she is hilarious and is one of my favorite characters in Harry Potter and her father has the most amazing name in the world. When my old dog had puppies I named Xenophilius Lovegood or Xeno for short. lol.

  7. omg!!!!!!!!! ive read uglies and pretties and i was going through ALLLL your old posts (BTW, im waiting for my local library to ship in specials), and “accidentally” read some spoilers. lol, well anywayz, u r currently my fav author (which i actually say often, in september it was laren myracle. im like yelling at myself saying “MAKE UP YOUR MIND CRAZY GAL!”). i actually find the -making suffix really catchy. and plus whenever i say bubbly, most of my friend friends r like “huh?” and i just giggle then explain to to them for like the millionth time 😉 u r awesome, rock on, and WRITE MORE BOOKS BASED ON THE UGLIES TRILOGY PLEAAAAASSSE!

  8. I know exactly what you mean. The last week of October, I was going over my collection of Steven Brust novels, since he is the master of opening lines, in my opinion.

    By the way, after reading the Uglies series, I ordered most of your books from the library. They’re really good research on good novels, but more importantly, they’re great stories!

  9. Dear Scott,
    It was a pleasure to meet you today at Children’s Book World. My son, Mitch was as thrilled as I was and we only wished that we had more time to take a look at the fantastic illustrations you brought.

    I also appreciated this most recent post and it came at a perfect time. As I’m trying to wind up my NaNo project, I went back to a favorite book, GRACELING, to re-read how the Kristin Cashore so beautifully captured the moment her protag realizes that she is love.

    Thanks again.

  10. hey Scott,

    Speaking of libraries, I’m in our teen council and I just wanted to know if you were coming to TLA in San Antonio next year….. My friends and I would love it if you were there, My librarian said that you were there last year in Austin and that she spoke with you…. I missed that opportunity and would love another one, and also, bring your wife, we would love to have her as well…. Our Book club has read all of your books and I’m an avid reader I’m working on a book and your tips are helping tremendously, Thanks for being a inspiration and a great writer!!!!

    Thanks!!!! -Lauren-wa

  11. Dear Scott~Sama,
    To me and my fan friends at school you are some-what of an invisible super hero in the sky. You are always with us in respiratory senses and for a week (Which is forever for us) you had my entire girls gym class wa-ing and la-ing! It was all so bubbly-making. Keep up with the books and blogs.
    ~A dedicated fan.

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