Question: How does one “read like a writer”?
Answer: “When you find something you like to read, don’t content yourself by saying, ‘I like this.’ When you find something that you actively dislike, don’t content yourself by saying, ‘I hate this.’ You ask yourself, ‘How is this made? What is the ratio of abstract to concrete language? Is the diction Latinate or is it colloquial? What is the ;point of view? …. What tense does the author turn to? What is the basic rhythm? Is this author's writing mostly iambic lines or trochaic lines? Does the author use fragments?’
“You have to work very specifically, using the writing that you like and the writing that you don’t like. Ask yourself how it’s made, because then you can use that technical information to teach yourself how to write the way you want to write. That advice has helped me a lot. Books are our best teachers, and they’re everywhere.”
Title: “Aiming for the Universal.” Interview with A Manette Ansay by Elfrieda Abbe. The Writer (December 2010), 22-25.