Reading for Writers 101 Roundup

Reading101_2A work crisis, a funeral and a deadline have made this week rather chaotic for me, so it is time for a roundup post!

I created the Reading for Writers 101 series because I believe reading critically is an essential component of learning writing craft. Plus the series gives me an outlet to not only express my frustration when I’m disappointed with books (which I never name because, you know, niceness), but to learn from them. And if I’m impressed with a book, I can shout it from the hilltops and share the brilliance! So, without further ado, here are the lessons so far…

(Click on titles to read the full post)

What Book Jackets Teach About a Story’s “Hook”

  • When book jackets lead me to expect something and then do not deliver, I learn the importance of correctly identifying one’s story hook.

Books I Did Not Finish… 3+ Reasons Why

  • I pinpoint the three main reasons I stop reading and make a checklist to ensure I don’t make the same mistakes in my own novel.

Character Change, part 1

  • I examine why character change makes a story worth reading.

Character Change, part 2

  • I outline the three steps of creating character change so it evolves naturally and doesn’t appear out of nowhere.

Is Your Story Ending ‘Right’?

  • It’s hard to get an ending just right, but I’ve come up with three steps to help.

Unreliable Narrators

  • Can unreliable narrators work when written in 1st person tense? It’s tough but doable, so I study two novels that did it well.

Character Motivation

  • I examine two common situations where heroes lack motivation, then offer solutions.

Hope you learn as much from those posts as I did! And next week, if the world doesn’t throw me another curveball, I’ll be back with a new blog post.


PS – A great resource for studying stories to learn writing craft is The Story Structure Database. Check it out!


Author: Heather Jackson

Heather is a freelance screenwriter, game writer, and novelist based in Toronto. For more, visit her website at or follow her on Twitter @HeatherJacksonW

10 thoughts on “Reading for Writers 101 Roundup”

  1. I started critiquing the books I read very early… and that helped me become a better writer, I think. Though now, I can’t read a book as a mere reader. Kind of shame… but I’m not complaining 🙂

    1. I think that’s true of a lot of writers – we’ll never simply be readers anymore. Then again, every once in a while, a book sweeps me away so completely that I stop reading like a writer and become pure reader. Those moments are great! But so rare.

  2. So glad you brought these issues to light. I actually just finished a book yesterday. I was thoroughly enjoying it … but, the ending let me down. In my reflection of why, it’s because when it was all said and done, there was basically no character change.
    @dino0726 from 
    FictionZeal – Impartial, Straighforward Fiction Book Reviews

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