Monday, March 17, 2014

Better Reading, Better Writing

Better Reading, Better Writing

Whenever you find a problem in your writing, be it in the nuts and bolts of structure or in leaden dialogue or dreary flashbacks, you'll always find an answer by studying your favorite writers and seeing how they handle the problem.

Many writers keep notebooks into which they copy outstanding phrases or even sentences from their reading. They don't ever copy these into their own work but use them as a learning tool. Reading is always the key to great writing.

Not all readers write--though if you scan the number of e-books added daily to Amazon, you may doubt the truth of that--but all writers and editors read voraciously.

This weekend I've been playing on the bite size Staples speedreader program.It's a fun way to check out your reading speed against the national average. You read a short passage, answer three comprehension questions and get a percentage comparison. And yes, I'll admit it, it's a wonderful excuse for procrastination.

If you're then looking to up your speed, try Spritzing. Content is streamed word by word, so your eyes spend no time moving around the page. This makes reading far easier, especially on small screens. Horizontal lines and hash marks focus your eyes on a red letter in each word, so you absorb the content you are reading far faster. You can also practice in different languages.

Interestingly after a few minutes on the Spritz website, I upped my score on the speedreader by nearly 40%.

Obviously the score would be better as I had already taken the test previously and knew what to expect but Spritzing led to a more relaxed yet more observant reading style. Worth a look especially when it comes to editing your work prior to submission.

Try it out. Let me know what you think in the comments below. Post your score if you see improvements in your speed reading. 

But if you prefer to read slowly and savor every word, tell us that too. How do you like to read?

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And as it's St Patrick's Day, celebrate by treating yourself to a rollicking read from The Wild Rose Press and practice your new skills on that. Here's a well reviewed historical with an Irish theme: Irish Destiny by Donna Dalton. 

Find the speedreader comparison check at

Start Spritzing at

And please remember to let us know if you'll be speed reading in the future in the comments below.

Anne Knol


Nicole D'Arienzo said...

Wonderful blog, I am going to try the speed reading test myself!

What Anne says is so true, I've always said my favorite authors taught me to write--I didn't just re-read their books, I dissected them with a highlighter to try and figure out how they moved me to tears, or laughter or made the scenes so vivid.

Now I'm off to procrasti--er, I mean try the speed reading test.


Lynda Coker said...

I took the test and scored 16% faster than the national average. When reading for pleasure, I like to take my time. Sometimes, I even read more than once sentences or paragraphs that catch my interest.
Thank you for these thoughts on Better Reading.

Nancy Sweetland said...

This was tremendous - I loved knowing how fast I read (it was a good score, better than I thought), but I especially liked knowing about the Spritz reading - what an innovation that can be.

Mary Morgan said...

I will definitely look into this, but I only speed read when it's a book that doesn't hold my interest - say a bookclub book.

With a good book, I like to read slow and savor the words and their feeling.

Anonymous said...

A most intriguing blog. Funny, I've never desired to read with speed. I enjoy savoring each and every word, sentence, paragraph and page. My husband skims a lot and reads a lot of books, but I think he misses some of the lovely turns of phrases which I savor.

andidowning said...

Interesting. Turned out I was 19% faster than the national average, which amused me because I always consider myself a slow reader. I hear the voices in my head and read very slowly, or so I thought. Are we a nation of slow readers?

Debra Doggett said...

I'll have to check that out. It would be interesting to know how fast I read. I am a bit of a skimmer. So long as I get the gist I don't linger over the words.

GiniRifkin said...

Another interesting post. When I read, I like to savor too, don't want to miss a good one-liner. Spritzing, what an awesome concept.

Monica Epstein said...

I know I read every word in my head, so I'm very slow. It was interesting to see that I could comprehend what I was reading on Spritz without "saying" every word to myself like I normally do.

I think I'm going to start a notebook to record particular "lessons" I might encounter as I'm reading a novel. That way I can look over the list when I need to find an example of how an author handled a specific thing, such as a dream, a shift in POV character, a text message, etc.

Laura Strickland said...

When I read, I actually speak the words in my head -- I love the sound and cadence of good writing rolling through my mind. That being said, I was above the average on the test, and below college level! Interesting post.

Larry Hammersley said...

I need to check out the Spritz reading and see if I can improve my reading speed. I took Developmental Reading(Speedy Reading in college slang) in college but it didn't improve my speed or comprehension either. Well I don't think so since that was 58 years ago. I know there are exercises to improve reading speed just like there is to copying Morse Code faster.

Maddy said...

500 for Spritz but only an average on Staples. Not bad considering I haven't done any speed reading since University. These days I prefer to savor.

I also think the Spritz 'thing' would be great for my partially sighted son, or the elderly where carting around a heavy tome leaves my mother-in-law worn out.

Barbara said...

Like many, I like to read slowly to savor the voice, although sometimes, I'm so eager to see what's coming, the reading speeds up :) In school, I was lucky enough to have been able to read fast, so it came in handy then. But I can't resist a challenge--I'm off to see how my reading compares these days. Barb Bettis

Sandra Dailey said...

I'm a leisurely reader. I like to savor the story and may reread several sections.

Joan Y. Edwards said...

Dear Annie,
Thanks for sharing the plain reading test and the Spritz test, too. Awesome ways to check our reading speed and comprehension.

Annie said...

Thanks so much everyone for your responses to the post. Such fun finding out about reading habits and preferences.

I read slower and slower when coming to the end of a book I never want to finish but can be pretty sprightly when I'm simply reading to find out if something, anything is going to happen.

Interesting how many people think they're reading slowly but are above the national average.

Thanks for the visit Joany--I'm well aware I should really be doing speed writing rather than reading...

Shirley Corder said...

Interesting post Annie. I know I read fast although I haven't done the test (yet!). However, I have to admit I really don't want to do anything to speed up my reading. I spend enough on books as it is! I'll have to do the test though, when I find the time. (Trying NOT to procrastinate here.)

Annie said...

He he Shirley. Know what you mean about the book buying...and the procrastination. Thanks for taking the time to drop by.

Karen Cioffi-Ventrice said...

Annie, great post. You always find such interesting writing or reading tools.

Annie said...

Thanks Karen. What a nice thing to say. Thanks for dropping by.