Pixar Rule 10: Learning From What You Read

Next in the Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling blogging challenge, rule 10 is up!

#10: Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.

I’ve read this way since I was twelve years old. At least, I’ve tried. When I love something in a book, I’m automatically curious why. I wanted to know why I loved that scene, that line, that character, long before I realized I wanted to be a writer. When a person loves something about a book, usually that means the author did something well. Pull it apart to see why it worked. If a scene just gripped you so thoroughly you couldn’t put the book down, look at why. Clipped, backloaded sentences? High personal stakes? Action where the timing was just dead-on?

I cannot get over the voice in The Fault in Our Stars. It’s funny, sarcastic, intelligent, and humble. I’m still working on breaking down how John Green did that, but frankness is a part of it. Hazel is honest with the reader about both love and death. I had no idea honesty about difficult things could be that impacting.

What Alice Forgot paints a relationship with effortless, breathtaking strokes. A tiny detail here, just a glimpse of an early scene in their marriage there. Liane Moriarty pulls together a complete, gorgeous picture of a marriage with tiny heartbreaking details. This book takes showing not telling to a whole new level. Seeing which details she uses, and how effective they are even without the summary and lines of telling that so many writers use to ground the reader, is such a powerful way to explore that concept.

In Jennifer Donnelly’s Revolution, I connected particularly with the main character. She’s skeptical and introspective, which I enjoyed, but after thinking about it, what drew me so much to her is her passion for music. I love music, but it’s particularly the way she talks about it, thinks with it, needs it, that gets me. The way she feels about music, I feel about writing. Giving your characters passions is a powerful thing. We all have deep desires. Giving them to your characters opens up a strong connection point with your readers.

So when you love something in a book, pause to think about why and jot it down. Process it. Use it. Doing so will change how you write- and how you read.

What’s an element you love in one of your favorite books? Why do you love it?

Check out the posts from my blogging friends who are doing this challenge with me!

Talynn Lynn, a writer, editorial intern for Entranced Publishing, and writing assistant extraordinaire,

Mary Pat, a writer, fellow teacher, and fantastic blogger,

Alex Yuschik, a writer, grad student, and lit agency intern,

and Regina Castillo, a dedicated reader, writer, and blogger.

One thought on “Pixar Rule 10: Learning From What You Read

  1. I read all Two- all but “The Fault in our Stars” and I have to confess I liked Moon River a whole lot more. I really really did. Revolution didn’t hit a homerun in the flash back scene. It left me hankering for some of those golden details that make your hands itch, your heart thrum, and make you readjust your reading position- eager for details.
    I adored Liane Moriarty’s use of parenthesis (I mean who wouldn’t). They totally hit home to me. I related to the character in her youth and I secretly hated her (and admired her for working out).
    BUT both of these books left me feeling down. They were like heavy wine mixed with a sad day. They needed some caffeine or actual chocolate to carry them through. They both left me feeling a bit sad despite the arrangement of the ending.
    I do have to add without the epilogue in “What Alice forgot” I think I would have been right there in revolution standing in line for the Eiffel tower… just saying. I DID love how they left me guessing. I never knew how they would turn out and the fear that they would turn out horribly drove me to finish each books within 36 hour time frame. 🙂
    Well that is all the ranting I have for now. Tootles

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