One way writers learn from stories is to use their X-ray vision. (After all, Superman was also a newspaper reporter.) X-ray reading helps you see through the text of the story to view the machinery of grammar, language, syntax and rhetoric, the gears of making meaning, the hardware of the trade.

Here are some X-ray reading tricks offered by writers:

  • Read to listen to the voice of the writer.
  • Read the newspaper in search of underdeveloped story ideas.
  • Read online to experience a variety of new storytelling forms.
  • Read entire books when they are compelling, but also taste lots of little parts of books.
  • Read on topics outside your discipline, such as architecture, astronomy, economics or photography.
  • Read with a pen nearby to write in the margins, mark up interesting passages and ask questions of the text.

Taken from The Writer's Workbench: 50 Tools You Can Use, a self-directed course by Poynter's Roy Peter Clark at Poynter NewsU.

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