Quarterly Column Archive

Q3 2008
Q2 2008
Q1 2008

Q4 2007
Q3 2007
Q2 2007
Q1 2007

Q4 2006
Q3 2006
Q2 2006
Q1 2006

Q4 2005
Q3 2005
Q2 2005
Q1 2005

Q4 2004
Q3 2004
Q2 2004
Q1 2004

Q3 2008

Find Your Own Way

Okay, so there are things like plot and character development, in fiction, and stanzas and line breaks, in poetry. So, what do you know about them? Do you ever step back from a story or poem that shakes you to the core and ask "How'd the writer do it?"

No? Then you're cutting your writing self short. What does close reading do? It helps the fiction writer see the myriad ways that plot can unfold, characters can come to life, tense can create a sense of time and distance; and it helps the poet see the myriad ways poems can be structured, lines can be broken, narrative can carry a poem.

Close reading opens up a world of possibilities and obliterates any restrictions that have been pounded into your head, such as "show, don't tell." The next time you read something that blows you away, go back to it and read it again and again, slowly. Move backward from the sum to its parts. What are those parts? How does the story or poem come together? And then remember that this is one way. Then find your own way.

Copyright © 2003–2009 Angela Jane Fountas. All rights reserved.
Contact: info[at]writehabit[dot]org