Read like a writer

By Jerry Bellune, Writing Coach

Sounds simple, doesn’t it. You are already a writer.

But think about it. 

Whenever you read – and it should be daily – think like a writer.

Pay attention to what the writers are doing, how they hold your attention and keep you reading. You can do that, too.

Writing coach Susan DeFreitas advises us to make notes.

Even if we never look at the notes again, the simple act of jotting down ideas tends to fix it in memory.

It may be a headline or a lead sentence. 

It may even be the closing of the story. 

I often read only opening and closing paragraphs.

After that I conclude I got all I might get.

Why read the entire article, story or book.

Does this sound heretical? Not to me. 

You’ll never have time for all of the books you’d like to read. 

Don’t waste time.

If an opening sentence grabs you, consider how the writer captured your attention.

Writers use certain techniques to lure you in, to engage and enchant you.

How did these writers get you to stay with them to the end? 

Was their closing satisfying?

Do you feel that you had a worthy reading experience?

You may recall my story about a fine crime reporter I once competed against.

He had been a short order cook. 

He taught himself to write by rewriting news articles. 

It freed him from a life of standing over a hot grill.

You may recall my story about Roger Bierne, the reporter who typed the poetry of W.B. Yeats, Dylan Thomas and others. 

Roger said it helped him capture the rhythm of their words. 

He took that rhythm into his own news and feature stories. 

An unpardonable trend is that modern short stories lack a satisfying conclusion.

I made a note to remind myself to never leave my readers dissatisfied.

You can do this, too. 

Before you write, think about your opening and closing and what comes between.

Learn to write your articles in your head.

If our reporters wrote better it would make editing their work easier. It would make  our news and feature articles sing. But we lack the time to coach them. Here’s a secret. Help them with a copy of writing coach Jerry Bellune’s The Art of Compelling Writing, $9.99 at They’re worth the investment.

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