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  • Pearl Lorentzen

Read as a writer

At bookclub recently, we decided to answer a list of discussion questions. It reminded us of an English class. Reading as a writer is a different skill than reading as an English major.


I read because I love words and stories. As a writer, I also read to identify how other writer's craft a story and to steal these techniques.


I recently took photos of two small birds. One was easy to identify and the other took a lot of work.

Possibly a female varied thrush. In the mountains by Canmore, AB.

I thought the above bird was a robin, but then I looked at the photo. Checking with my bird book, a female varied thrush is the only bird that makes sense with the colours. Also, it says it likes thick, wet coniferous trees and moist ravines. Since I was in one at the time, I assume the ID is fairly good. However, I'm still in doubt.


The same thing happens with trying to glean writing techniques from reading. Often memorable scenes or characters are too complex to distill into distinct parts.


However, several weeks after I took and last looked at the below photo, I saw the page on nuthatches. I immediately recognized it as the bird from this and a series of underexposed and slightly blurry photos.

A male red-breasted nuthatch in Slave Lake, AB.

Whether a writing technique is easy to identify or oblique, reading with an eye toward how the author wrote is a useful skill for a writer.

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