A Different Take on Mentor Texts

I have a very short post for you today, but I hope it will give you something to think about as you continue to read to learn about writing.

Last month, I talked about choosing books in the same genre and even the same topic as the one you’re writing for the mentor texts you use.

Sometimes you may be surprised, though, and will discover a mentor text in a style, genre, topic or category that you would never think of writing. So last month’s post isn’t everything there is to say about mentor texts. Keep an open mind, and be prepared to find mentor texts anywhere.

As an example, I don’t write adult mysteries or police procedurals, but I love to read them as recreational reading. Lately I’ve been reading the Mars Bahr series by Minneapolis writer K.J. Erickson.

I found myself thinking as I read the second book, “I would love to take a writing class from this woman!” She is masterful at creating and describing setting vividly. Her characters are well-crafted and believable. Those elements carry across into any type of fiction one might write. (Note that my assessment of the second book is a bit different to the reviews I’ve linked to.)

As the Publishers Weekly review I linked to says (of the first book), “The writing here is so flawless, the tone so true, that the reader wholeheartedly enters the world of Mars Bahr and others. Well-chosen details about Minneapolis’s history and the politics in city hall enhance the setting; a strong, precise style and deftly handled transitions make the book sheer pleasure to read.”

Although, lamentably, there’s no writing class by K.J. Erickson, I plan to go back and re-read her series to study how she creates such vivid settings and true-to-life characters.

So be alert, even when you’re just reading for fun. If you find an author who is particularly good at characterization, or plot twists, or any other aspect of writing craft, consider taking some time to analyze why their technique works, and how you might adapt it to your own writing.

Happy reading! Happy writing!

1 Comment

  1. Very good point! 🙂

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