Writing Reader Observation #1

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. ” ― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft


Regardless of whether you’re a fan of Stephen King’s or not, his advice regarding reading is spot on. How can you be a good writer if you don’t read? It’s kind of like a writer’s apprenticeship. Reading shows you what to do and sometimes what NOT to do.

Today marks the start of what will be a semi-regular feature on the Microcosm. I’m going to share with you some observations, unfortunately mostly what-not-to-do’s, from the books that I’ve read while blogging.


The following is paraphrased from the novel I’m currently reading:

The character is on the phone. The British man says to her:

“We want to use the telly.”

My reaction when reading: what does their wanting to watch the tv have to do with her being on the phone?

Reading on I realize that the author thinks the British use “telly” to mean phone. They don’t. “Telly” refers to television.

Lesson Learned: Don’t use slang unless you are positive of the meaning; if nothing else, google. If you don’t want to do that, just use the term common to your own language.

As a writer you always want to maintain the “fictional dream,” which is interrupted when you use the wrong word.


14 replies »

    • Thanks. I hope it’s helpful. I know I’ve been reading a bit more carefully (actually have begun to feel nitpicky—eeks!) and maybe my observations can help other writers. 🙂

  1. So true…I knew a guy who only read the books he wrote himself. Sounds boring to me, especially as he’d only written a couple of books. But in those books, he would try to use long, fancy words. And he had no idea what they meant. I couldn’t stand it.
    I read all the time, and have a good vocabulary because of that. But if I’m even a little hesitant, I google the word to make sure. Or I use a word that I know my readers will be sure to know, if it doesn’t change the integrity of the story.

    • You have a good point. I’ve started googling words I felt positive I knew and sometimes find they didn’t have the exact meaning, a close meaning, but not exact. That’s the fun of words. 🙂
      (But I can’t imagine only reading things I’d written!)

    • Yes. I know that my writing has improved so much by reading. Even when you think you’re not paying attention to the actual writing style, I think you’re learning by osmosis. 🙂
      Also, I think Google has made me a better writer. lol 🙂

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