Site Challenge: Reading like a Writer (September 2018)

As writers, we should never underestimate the importance of reading. We can’t hope to improve our craft without analyzing the work of others, learning what to do and (equally important) what not to do.

Experience is a good teacher, too, but we limit ourselves when we only focus on our own writing. Outside perspectives are crucial, exposing us to unique concepts and stylistic choices we might’ve never even considered. This is how we grow as writers – pushing the boundaries of our imaginations and exploring all possibilities.

Or as William Faulkner put it:

“Read, read, read. Read everything – trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it.
Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.”

Site Challenge: Reading like a Writer

September 1-30, 2018

To participate in this challenge, you’ll need to select one book to read. This should be a book that a.) you’ve never read, and b.) one you wouldn’t normally choose. Are you a fantasy junkie? Try a mystery or contemporary thriller. Obsessed with sci-fi? Why not try a historical romance?

The purpose of this challenge is to broaden our horizons. Let’s see how much we can learn by stepping outside our comfort zones.

Our other goal is to read critically. Rather than breezing through, let’s fully examine the material. What works for us? What doesn’t? What strategies and stylistic choices could we incorporate into our writing, and which aspects would we prefer to leave out?

Most importantly, this challenge is intended to start a dialogue. I’ve created a forum thread where we can share our insights, which I hope will be used often throughout the month of September. While there’s much we can learn from our reading material, this is also a wonderful opportunity to learn from each other.

What to Read

As mentioned, you should read something that falls outside of your typical genre(s). You can borrow a book from a friend or visit your local library, pick up something cheap on Amazon (or free, if you’re a Kindle Unlimited subscriber), or you can download classic books for free from Project Gutenberg.

How to Participate: Final Notes

Please comment below and let us know if you’ll be participating. You can also use the comments section to share book recommendations, ask for suggestions, and/or post any questions you might have.

Starting on September 1, the discussion will move to our official forum thread. You’re welcome (and strongly encouraged) to share your insights as you read your novel. You can do this chapter by chapter, once or twice a week, whatever suits your schedule. You’re also encouraged to comment on posts from other members, as long as you stay on topic.

For Visitors/Guests:

We’d be thrilled to have you join us for this challenge. Feel free to register an account (it only takes a second) and introduce yourself in our forum. Our members and staff will be happy to help you get started. 🙂

Are you looking forward to this challenge? I know I am!

Author: Heather

Heather is the owner/administrator of the Story Scribes community. She’s a prolific writer, web developer, and visual artist who spends every year counting down the days until NaNoWriMo.

8 thoughts on “Site Challenge: Reading like a Writer (September 2018)”

  1. Very nice! I’ll be participating. No idea what to read so I’ll probably pick up whatever catches my eye on my weekend thrift shop run. Looking forward to seeing everyone in the challenge thread!

    1. I was going to try to contain my excitement for this and hold off on telling you guys the genre I decided on, but I’m clearly failing because here I am, telling you guys anyway.

      I’m a big fantasy/YA reader. I have tried to expand my horizons in recent years with contemporary fiction and certain classics, as well as a few mysteries/crime novels.

      One genre I haven’t tried at all?


      And I can’t handle my horror, guys. I am a big wimp. I mean, I’d read Goosebumps and Coraline when I was a kid, and I was coerced into seeing the new It movie (last year?), and I could hardly handle it. I had to sit out when my 4th grade class watched Goosebumps movies in school. Understandably, I have never ONCE picked up Stephen King or any other adult horror literature, so I am using this opportunity to do so, because it is hard for me to really wrap my mind around the idea of horror in written form. I figure what makes horror MOVIES so terrifying has a lot to do with the music score and visuals on top of the story itself. How do writers do horror, then, without audio/video? I shall find out, with either Stephen King’s “The Revival” ($3 sale at Half-Price) or Dean Koontz’s “Ticktock” ($4 paperback and very kindly recommended to me by a fellow shopper).

  2. Dana, I think horror is a brilliant choice! Fortunately, gore in written form is easier to handle than visuals, so I’m sure you’ll be okay.

    My reading habits are so eclectic that I’m having trouble finding a genre I haven’t explored. Maybe Christian romance? That would be entertaining. 😀

    1. Thanks!

      It’s actually not gore that bothers me so much as the suspense/paranormal/jump scare side of things. So we’ll see if I’m appropriately horrified or not with the book I choose.

  3. I’ll participate too, it sounds like a lot of fun!

    I know how you feel about horror, Dana, I’ve never read any either. I’m a bit too scared to try it now, since I like sleeping at night. So I’ll have to pick a different genre I don’t normally read. Looking forward to it!

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