Annotate or keep a reading log - Deepstash
Annotate or keep a reading log

Annotate or keep a reading log

The point is to capture what makes the text emotionally relevant to you

Whenever you open a new book, that experience doesn’t exist in a vacuum. You bring with it all of the stories you’ve consumed before, your own philosophy of the world, and your knowledge base or assumptions.

If you prefer a looser structure, keep a freeform reading log of your thoughts every few chapters.

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MORE IDEAS FROM How to Read Like a Writer

Target specific writing skills you want to improve

Narrow your focus to one of those elements. Smmarize each chapter to one sentence. In the end, reread your summary.

  1. What is the purpose of each scene?
  2. What character choices were most important/memorable?
  3. How did the focus of the story transform over time, and what were those turning points?

Choose a few passages that stand out to you

  • Why does the passage call out to you?
  • What narrative tools — word choice, repetition, sentence structure — is the author using to make you feel that way?

Put that learned skill into practice during your next writing session and focus on that single area.

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Create something inspired by what you read

It is possible to kill your enjoyment of storytelling if you go headlong into every book with a surgical knife. That’s why I find it’s best to read most books casually and just experience the story.

  1. Watch YouTube book reviews or interviews with the author.
  2. Create artwork inspired by the book. Write a short story or poem.
  3. After reading, watch the movie adaptation, and note the changes they made.

Create new art from the art you consume and continue the conversation.

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Overview: Read like a Writer
  1. Ask meaningful questions
  2. Articulate your opinions — and use evidence
  3. Annotate or keep a reading log
  4. Create something inspired by what you read
  5. Target specific writing skills you want to improve
  6. Examine the larger context
  7. Reread

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Articulate your Opinions - Examples
  1. Writing style- “concise” or “wordy.”
  2. Plot- slow versus fast paced, boring versus riveting.
  3. Characters- How attached am I to them, if they felt 3D, real, dynamic. Or, if the author intended for them to be caricatures, how it effected my reading experience.
  4. Originality - How predictable the plot and dialogue were, or if the world-building felt too unbelievable. I’d spotlight elements I hadn’t encountered in other stories before.
  5. Intellectual value- Does it stimulate thought?
  6. Personal enjoyment: Did I not want to put the book down? Would I read it again? How did I feel after I finished it?

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ZADIE SMITH

Readers fail when they allow themselves to believe the old mantra that fiction is the thing you relate to and writers the amenable people you seek out when you want to have your own version of the world confirmed and reinforced. That is certainly one of the many things fiction can do, but it’s a conjurer’s trick within a far deeper magic. To become better readers and writers we have to ask of each other a little bit more.

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Ask meaningful questions
  1. What are my favorite lines, and how do they make me feel?
  2. How does the author set the stage with her opening line?
  3. Since the author says the moon is her mother, what does the tone suggest about their relationship?
  4. What metaphor might I use to describe the same thing that the author described?

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Articulate your opinions — and use evidence

Write a  1 sentence summary of what the book was about and what I liked and didn’t like on a broad scale.

Then I’d spend a few sentences rating each metric: writing style, plot, characters, originality, intellectual value, and my personal enjoyment.

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Examine the larger context
  • There’s no such thing as a wholly original work of literature
  • There’s a universal grammar of figurative imagery across literature
  • The intended audience and purpose of the text can factor into your interpretation

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Reread

Rereading lets you get past your initial reactions to analyze why the story works or doesn’t work

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RELATED IDEA

Stephen king

“ If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write.”

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Good personal writing can encourage a real connection and brighten someone's day, be it a birthday day card, snail mail, a text message or a work email. 

When done right, it feels like someone is really noticing you.

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The Lost Art Of Reading

In the digital age, where reading material is abundant, sustained and deep reading is falling out of favor. Readers have lost the 'cognitive patience' that they had reading complex works in the pre-internet age.

Deep reading, that was once natural, is now a struggle, thanks to the explosion of shallow material and reduced attention spans.

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