Australian writer of books for younger readers, young adults, verse novels and poetry.

My Reader’s Journal continued

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A couple of people have asked me how I’m recording what I read this year – do I just make some notes or is it more structured? What I’ve decided to do is a reader’s report on each book. I’m using the same format as reader’s reports I’ve received as a writer and the format I use for manuscript assessments.

I start with a brief but detailed synopsis of the book which mentions the target audience, the theme and a little bit about the voice. Then I move on to a more detailed commentary on the following:

  • characters
  • theme and plot
  • setting
  • language and style
  • narratorial voice
  • pacing

For La Belle Sauvage I’ve also done a chapter outline – this is primarily because I was interested in how Pullman moved from chapter to chapter and his plotting. I’m doing the same for Margaret Atwood’s Cat’s Eye because I’m teaching it in February and it’s a handy reference tool.

I will probably add to this list some notes about the opening and ending of certain novels. There are some golden rules about openings – I’m sure we all know these – begin with a hook, introduce your central character, begin the story as close to the inciting incident as possible and don’t begin with dialogue because the reader doesn’t know who is talking yet. It’s always interesting to see challenges to these rules but also to think about how the opening influences the pacing of a book and the reader’s expectations of how the story will unfold.

So, that’s the plan – a reader’s report on every novel read this year. I’ve already encountered my first problem. I listen to audio books and subscribe to an audio book service. It’s impossible to backtrack on an audio book and just as difficult to make notes as you listen! I have just finished listening to Blood Miracles by Lisa McInerney and I really want to write this book up – it’s every bit as fabulous as her first book featuring young Ryan. I suppose what I will have to do is either buy a hard copy or wait for it to become available at one of the libraries. (I suspect I’ll buy it!)

I’ll use these reader’s reports as the basis of some mini-reviews – so stay tuned!


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