June 12, 2018

The Classic Author

by Susan Reichert, Editor-in-Chief, Southern Writers Magazine

The classic writers all have one thing in common. There books are still being read today. They have long passed from this life, yet their words are here. It’s their legacy to each of us who are readers and writers. In each one of their books, we find them waiting for us.

Robert Louis Steveson said, "I kept always two books in my pocket, one to read, one to write in."

Stevenson, was a Scottish novelist, poet, essayist, musician and travel writer. We know him from his most famous works––Treasure Island Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and A Child's Garden of Verses. He ranks as the 26th most translated author in the world.

Today there is a website dedicated to him. It is designed for all such as academics, school children and anyone interested in learning more about him and his work.

We can still learn from those who came before us.

What I found most interesting about him was not what he wrote but that he was a true writer in the sense he recognized the importance of reading (writers read) and
keeping a book (journal) with him to write in. If a thought came to mind he had a little book to write it down in immediately and that thought would not be lost in space.

It is in reading books we see how the writers created the world their story resides in. We can follow along and see what types of descriptions they use––are they too long, not enough or are they confusing and if so why or were they spot on.

What about their characters? How were they treated in the book? Did you get to know them, care for them? Were you able to walk into the book’s story and become mesmerized by the tale?

There are so many ways we can use books we read. Certainly, we like to pick up a good book for enjoyment. But for writers we also need to pick up books to see how others are writing. It’s like going to writing school and having a lab class with the book.

Next time you are reading a book, look at it with a writer’s eye. Look at style, voice, point of view, dialogue, scenes, descriptions, flow, and characters. What did it teach you about writing?

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