I read a lot of books and I have become accustomed to different styles of writing and different ways of telling a story.
There are books which I have read which I promptly forgot about once I closed them, and others written by my favourite authors whose words still linger in my mind long after I read the final words.
Here are a few writing lessons which I have learned from my favourite authors:
Lesson 1: Get to the point.
Author: Chinua Achebe:
Book: ‘Things Fall Apart’.
From the first page of this book, you learn so much about Okonkwo, the protagonist and this really appeals to me. I don’t mind detailed descriptions in books, but sometimes I just want to get on with things and have the story begin immediately.
Lesson 2: Your protagonist may not be likable, but she should be interesting.
Author: Chimamamda Ngozi Adichie.
Adichie is, in my opinion, a master of creating a protagonist who you really should not like, but you feel some empathy for because of the manner in which she has been described. Some are of the opinion that the main character in a book should be a likable hero, but I feel writing characters who are very flawed and are trying to find their purpose in life make for more interesting reading.
Lesson 3: Short paragraphs and short chapters can enhance the pace of a story.
Author: James Patterson.
Book: ‘The Quickie’ (all of his books, really).
I guess this lesson really works if you already have a talent for creating tense, sitting-at-the-edge-of-your-seat thrillers, which Patterson is great at doing. His books tend to have very short chapters, usually one to three pages, which often end with mini-cliffhangers.
Lesson 4: Humour makes the mundane relatable.
Author: Sophie Kinsella.
Book: The ‘Shopaholic’ series of books.
Even if you’re the type to turn down your nose at books in the ‘romantic’ genre, these books are in their own league because they are laugh-out-loud funny. Kinsella was able to create a character dealing with situations that really aren’t funny (being in debt and having a shopping addiction) and write about her escapades in a way that would make you chuckle.
Lesson 5: Cliffhangers and twists at the end of a story are always welcome.
Authors: Jefferey Archer & James Hadley Chase.
I love a good cliffhanger in a book. Who says that a book needs to end in a wholly satisfactory manner? Certainly not these two guys! Jefferey Archer’s 7-part ‘Clifton Chronicles’ weaves tales of families intertwined through marriage and deceit, with each part ending in a compelling cliffhanger that will make you rush out to buy the next book.
As far as detailed (and sometimes absurd) crime capers go, James Hadley Chase will take you on a wild ride, and just when you think the story has ended, a random situation pops up on the very last page, which will leave you full of either joy or frustration.
These are only a few of the authors whose books I have read, but these are the major writing lessons which I have learned.
Has reading any books by your favourite authors inspired your writing? Please let me know in the comments! Thanks for reading.