Sunday, July 24, 2011

Reading Like a Writer - Francine Prose

an the love of language be taught? Can a gift for storytelling be taught? These are questions posed at the beginning of Reading Like a Writer. Francine Prose admits that you can be taught the technical aspects of writing. The real writing which would be the storytelling is learned, for most writers, by example and examples it what this book is about.

The chapters are thus:
  • Close Reading
  • Words
  • Sentences
  • Paragraphs
  • Narration
  • Character
  • Dialogue
  • Details
  • Gesture
  • Leaning from Chekhov
  • Reading for Courage
Francine Prose weaves her teaching abilities within the examples. Many of which I enjoyed and wished they would go on, but that is left for you to explore later. The examples she chooses shows you why word choice, the sentence, the paragraph, the dialog, etc makes these elements of some writers great and if something was changed about them, they may fall flat.  The chapter on Dialogue was interesting in that she pointed things that were being said, but many times the story is being told in what is not being said.

This is a very good book where I have learned that the constructs of writing need to be looked at more closely while reading. In a story that may seem dull to some in plot may come alive with the aspect of simple word choices! Notice that Ms. Prose did not cover plot or setting.  I find that interesting since these are the main things that I usually first think about when entering a book. She knows that rules will be broken and many times to a brilliant outcome and also stated that in her opinions on things fluctuate all the time. Highly recommended.

This book can be purchased at bookstores, online and is available in ebook form in popular formats.


  1. I've got this book in my TBR pile and really do need to get around to reading it. Apparently I need to read each book twice: once for the story and again to study the writing! I'm intrigued by the device of telling the story through what is not being said. Hmmm ...

  2. Excellent review..... Just looking at the cover makes me drool...... :-)