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“You enter the extraordinary by way of the ordinary.” ~Frederick Buechner

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Build a Story World

Read With Impact

Whatever our field of interest is, we all consume tons of information, sometimes by assignment and sometimes as hungry passion. Often, however, specific elements of reading can get lost in the quantity. A few months ago I had the privilege of co-presenting at an ACFW mini-conference in the Bay area and as this reading sequence brought several responses I’m going to share it as a sequence for the month of April.

And I hope you’ll share your insights as well. Also for those who live in the Bay area check out some great upcoming workshops from Golden Gate ACFW Northern California at In the meantime—happy reading.

The methods used to interpret literature can also be applied to other arts such as film, music, dance, architecture, paintings and photography. The difference lies in the purpose, or focus, of your intent or search. Like other forms of analysis, interpretation requires making observations, connections, inferences and conclusions.

Reading As Process 

What is the process involved in understanding a communication?

What is being said or what is it? A summary.
What does it mean? Why? An analysis.
Is it good? An evaluation.

1.     Questions of fact: recall questions. These are essential to form the basis of our support.
Ex. What time did Cinderella have to be home from the ball?

2.     Questions of interpretation: can only be answered from the text
Ex. What motivated Cinderella? How would you characterize her stepsisters?

3.     Questions Beyond the Text: connections to the real world
Ex. Is there such a thing as happily ever after?           

Suggestion: For fiction, look for main elements and then track the information in a journal. Plot, theme, structure, character, setting, point of view, style, symbols all work together in a novel. One method of reading is to use different color highlighters for different threads.

                     For your beta readers, after they have read your manuscript and given you their feedback, give them these three questions. As readers we all focus on the aspects that touch us personally. Not only will this give you some insight into how others perceive your story, but also you might discover some nuggets for interviews and marketing.


1.     Choose one main character from the most recent book you have read and answer the above questions?
2.     Note how they tracked throughout the story line. Did all three aspects weave together or were there place where it seemed disjointed?
3.     How would you fix it?

Share: Did you notice any new details? 

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