This week, we’ve talked about the nuts and bolts of reading. Now it’s time to put theory into action.
Do the following steps to analyze a piece of short form literature. Don’t worry about making your answers to the questions cohesive or making them “look pretty” in a neat little essay. Right now, just jot down notes and focus on sharpening those reading chops.
Choose a piece of short form literature. If you’ve already been reading a piece all week in response to Monday’s post, use that piece. If you’re just joining in today, no worries. Pick something short and read it through a couple of times before you start the analysis. (No highlighters and no taking notes on this step. Just read.)
Now break out your pen and highlighter and read the piece one more time through but focus on collecting information.
• What is the author saying?
• What point is the author making in the piece?
• What is the tone or “attitude” of the piece?
Think like a reporter and ask those basic W questions: who, what, when, where. Don’t worry about why or how just yet, though.
Once you’ve got a handle on the basic information, you can move into a more philosophical mode and start interpreting the piece. This is when you start asking why.
• Why is the author writing this piece?
• What does the author mean when he or she says [fill in the blank]?
• What is it making me feel and why is it making me respond that way?
Now we finally come to the reading-like-a-writer stage of the process. Or as I like to call it “reading like a revolutionary.” Think about your response to the piece and try to determine the following:
• How does the author get you to respond in this way?
• What techniques does he or she use? What works and what doesn’t?
• How can you apply some of these techniques to your own writing?