Part of my goal in 2017 is to re-read some of my favorite book series, from a craft perspective. I’ve learned a lot by re-reading my favorites, which made me realize that everyone can learn from this tactic. So today, let’s talk about why writers should reread their favorite series.
1. you’ll learn about story structure
Think about your favorite book series. It’s your favorite for a reason, right? You’ve probably fallen in love with it because the stories are good. One of my favorite series ever is the Stephanie Plum Series by Janet Evanovich. Her books (which have become stale as of late) were original and funny for the first ten books or so. I have the first seven on my bookshelf and I occasionally pick up one and just start reading.
The more I read them, the more I remember what will happen next, helping me put together a chronological view of the story as I’m reading it. By remembering the sequence of events in someone else’s books, it stretches my muscles to make me remember the events in my books.
2. You’ll pick up on characterization
In the Stephanie Plum books, a running gag is Stephanie’s ability to destroy any and every car she drives. This fun fact leads to amusement from the two love interests and frustration from Stephanie herself. It’s moments like these that lead to true, natural characterization in a story.
Reading is a key habit of any great writer, and we all love to reread old favorites, right? Click To Tweet
3. What are your favorite moments?
Grab a pen and some paper because we’re taking notes. Find your favorite moments in your series and reread them. Then write down how you feel reading it, and why. Is it the moment where the main character finally triumphs? Is it the teasing between the main character and the love interest? What is your favorite part?
Then think about how you can create a way in your story to capture that same reaction in your readers.
Take notes on why you love certain things, what you don’t like, and how you would run the story.
You can take what you know from your favorite books and incorporate that into your books. For instance, before I read Stephanie Plum books, I never realized you could pair mystery and action with humor. That was something I had wanted to do for years, and while my books are a little darker than Evanovich’s books, knowing that she had put humor in her books made me feel better about putting humor in mine.
Another favorite series of mine (which I will re-read this year) is the Vampire Academy books. I know everyone rolls their eyes at “vampires” now, but these characters stand beyond the title. The relationships in the series are ones I’ve definitely taken note from, especially the main romantic relationship.
Now this isn’t permission for you to straight up copy your favorite books, but many plot structures you’ll find in books are all the same. Rereading your favorite stories will remind you of how to take a basic story structure (here is a fantastic article on story structures) and make it your own with your own quirks and details.
But most importantly –
4. enjoy reading the book
There’s a reason it’s one of your favorites, right? Enjoy it! While it’s always good to take notes and learn, reading your favorite book again should ultimately be a fun experience. If it isn’t, it’s not worth it.