Purposeful Reading (VEDA Day 12)

Purposeful Reading (VEDA Day 12)

Hello Rebel, and welcome back to my life.

Boy, it feels good to be on an actual camera that I cannot also use to accidentally text someone pictures that look like this.

Kidding, of course. It’s never an accident.

So I MAY have mentioned before that I’m working on a new book—

(HAPPY BOUNCING AND SQUEALING)

—and it’s going very well, and I’m a tiny little bit excited about it.

(HAPPIER BOUNCING AND SQUEALING)

And I’ve also talked recently about how I have this big, audacious goal to read 100 books this year.

Well, for the book I’m writing, Yerrin, which is the sixth book in the Nightblade Epic, I decided to do a little bit more selective, purposeful reading.

There are two plotlines—or, I guess, one plotline and a scene, for which I drew inspiration from two other stories I’ve read and loved in the past.

Those plotlines come from Mistborn, by Brandon Sanderson, which I reviewed on the channel a while ago, and the Knightfall story in Batman, which I actually read as it was coming out.

By the way, you should absolutely NOT infer anything from the fact that the protagonists in both these stories get their butts kicked by the villain in the end. OR SHOULD YOU?

So selective, purposeful reading has been an incredibly powerful tool for me in the past.

Almost all stories I come up with have similar themes or beats or plots to things I’ve read or watched.

So I’ll go and read or watch those things again, this time with the intention doing a more in-depth appraisal of those scenes or plotlines or whatever.

I once had a filmmaking mentor who taught me one of the most useful lessons I’ve ever learned, not just for filmmaking, but for all art in general.

He had me list out several of my favorite scenes from some of my favorite movies—spoiler alert, most of them were from the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Then he had me watch those scenes over and over again and draw out—actually sketch out and diagram—HOW the director did the scene.

I’m talking about physically, logistically. Where were the actors on the set, and where were the cameras? What was in the frame? Was the camera above the actor’s eyeline or below it?

I mean, this seems like a really simple exercise, and when you do it, you might be like, “Okay, I did that. Now what?”

But it’s only after doing it for dozens of these scenes, or maybe hundreds, that you start to see the things that EVERY director does, the techniques they use to convey an emotion on the viewer.

I actually developed my own drill similar to this for writing. I don’t do this all the time, but I’ve done it a few times for practice, and it’s incredibly illuminating.

I will read a scene from one of my favorite books, and then I will sit down at my computer and I will try to write that chapter out, WORD FOR WORD.

Not MY version of the scene—I will try to literally duplicate the exact scene.

After I’ve finished, I’ll take my scene and compare it to the scene from the actual book side by side.

The point isn’t to try and be better than the author I’m studying. The point is to see what moments in the chapter stuck out the most in my mind.

In parts of the scene where I copy the words almost exactly, that means THAT part of the scene had more of an impact on me than the parts where I couldn’t remember exactly what the writer had written.

And it’s those parts that I study to see HOW the writer did what they did to make it so that I remembered that part of the scene so well.

So this is what I’ve been working on today as I prepare to start writing the first draft of my next book. I still can’t believe this is what I get to do for my JOB.

Please, nobody tell my wife I’m reading comic books during work hours, or I might be in big trouble.

That’s all I’ve got for you today, Rebel. Check out yesterday’s VEDA video right up there, or check out my Patreon right there to see my secret weekend videos.

Thank you so much for watching, and I will see you tomorrow. Byyye!

Garrett Robinson

Over 100,000 readers have read and loved Garrett's books, like the fantasy hits Nightblade and Midrealm. He's also a film festival favorite with movies like Unsaid, and a tech guru who posts lots of helpful how-tos for writers and filmmakers over at garrettbrobinson.com.

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