A Writing Analysis Challenge

The challenge several panelists at James River Writers Conference threw down is to take a favorite writer or book and deconstruct the first three chapters. Read the novel as if you are editing it for publication. What do you like about the writing once you begin to look at the elements of the story? What don’t you like? What would you change?

Select a contemporary work, not a classic since the rules of writing have changed since Charles Dickens. You might look at the following:

  • Pacing: how fast does the writer get into the story, into each chapter?
  • Setting: does the writer give hints about the setting or an indepth description over every detail?
  • Characterization: does the writer show you enough about the protagonist that you have a vested interest in that person?
  • Circle or underline the number of adverbs and adjectives your writer uses. Are there too many adjectives strung together? Does s/he rely on adverbs to drive the action?
  • I’m taking the challenge. I’ll report back on the name of the writer, the novel, and what I found by going through this exercise. Anyone else up to this exercise?

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