Francine Prose, Reading like a Writer (2006)

I had several hours of train travel this week-end, and France Prose delighted me with her wise remarks on many classics and contemporary books. Her writing is so smooth and clear that the text I am currently working on feels clumsy and vague by comparison. Her brilliant examples just led me to add a few more books on my TBR-list, especially Kleist’s Marquise of O. This is a very inspirational book that I will keep close at hand for future reference. I like when she says that not only doesn’t she fear being influenced by the great writers she reads while writing on a text of her own, but she actually hopes that they will influence her into writing better.

In the ongoing process of becoming a writer, I read and re-read the authors I most loved. I read for pleasure, first, but also more analytically, conscious of style, of diction, of how sentences were formed and information was being conveyed, how the writer was structuring a plot, creating characters, employing detail and dialogue. And as I wrote, I discovered that writing, like reading, was done one word at a time, one punctuation mark at a time. It required what a friend calls “putting every word on trial for its life”: changing an adjective, cutting a phrase, removing a comma, and putting the comma back in. (Chapter One: Close Reading)


5 thoughts on “Francine Prose, Reading like a Writer (2006)

  1. Pingback: Francine Prose The Peaceable Kingdom (1993) « Smithereens

  2. Pingback: The mysterious question of style | Smithereens

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