“How To Read Like A Writer” and “Seven Short Talks About Islands… And By Islands I Mean Paragraphs” – notes


“How To Read Like A Writer” is an article written by Dr. Mike Bunn that explains how different the world of reading (and writing) can be when looked at from the other’s perspective. Generally speaking, it is an explanation of how to read a book, magazine, article, essay, or any piece of text and imagine it from the writer’s point of view. Instead of reading for pleasure, research, or for a school assignment, reading it by examining word choices, context, and even sentence structure to try and figure out why the author made the decisions he/she did; to ask yourself questions while reading. Examining instead of merely breezing through it. Reading to learn about writing, if you will. He goes on to explain that most writing teachers are so focused on teaching writing, they forget to show us how they want us to read, and examine the details in the choices they make. Because that is what writing is; a series of choices. Dr. Bunn teaches us in his article that the goal shouldn’t necessarily be to simply get through the text and harness its entertainment value, but to train ourselves to formulate questions as we read based on whatever we happen to notice in the text, since everyone notices different things.

(analysis of “…And By Islands I Mean Paragraphs”)

This writing was a little past the right amount of cryptic for my taste, and I love a good metaphor. In my opinion, I see this as a little more like visual art than your average written word, particularly with its modular format. I had to Google more than a few things (what did we ever do before Google?) And in an analytical attempt to explain something that I am still not sure I fully understand myself, I will say that a lot of it seems to have more than one meaning. Each “Island” seems to be pieces of different stories, blurbs, and poems taken from some sort of Greek point of view, some of them clandestine, and some of them that down-right change as you read them. Literally. The beauty of a writing like this is in its inherent subjectivity. The piece does little to actually explain what you are reading, but instead takes you on a journey of its very own. After reading it, you may not have a concise idea of where exactly these Islands are or what they are truly called, but you certainly get a better picture of the writer himself. Which, after all, in my opinion is even better. If you can’t quite get a feel for what it is you’re reading, go for the next best thing: get a feel for who is writing it. Its art, what more is there to analyze?

(some key terms and main ideas)

  • Ask “how”? – Ask yourself “How did the writer get me to feel?”
  • RLW – stands for Reading Like a Writer
  • Genre – a category of artistic composition, as in music or literature, characterized by similarities in form, style, or subject matter
  • Context – the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed
  • Audience – the assembled spectators or listeners at a public event, such as a play, movie, concert, or meeting (or group of unassembled people who might one day read your writing)
  • Transition -the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another

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