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Reading Notes

Hello everyone, the post you have been waiting for is here. This morning I will be discussing how I study the novels I read. This way you can start to take notes on the novels your read to improve your writing. It also gives you a behind-the-scenes look into how I use other writers' work to influence my own. Understanding a story and seeing a primary example of it can do wonders for your writing.

The best part is this note-taking process is not even necessary given that everything we experience or take on, influences us consciously or not. However, taking a record of these influences is the most effective way of going about this. With that being said, this will be a more atypical post. This is given that instead of writing out paragraphs about every idea due to me not wanting to give anything away. I will only share the points I got from the novel.

Dark Places Notes

  • Make your characters novice with off-putting sayings and words unique to them.

  • Give your character personality by first writing in the first person. Then changing the pronouns. (Not my idea but I found it to be very helpful.”

  • Showing a character's biases informed by their influences and life experiences.

  • Make your characters unique by sharing specific behaviors or ways in which they respond to situations based on their past.

  • This is the only time I will advocate for copying. But complying with a list of terms and vocabulary that stands out can expand upon your own characters.

  • Your characters should carry themselves and make decisions according to their past that has consequently formed who they are.

If you have not already checked out Gillian Flynn’s, Dark Places. I highly recommend it because this is my second read and I still love it. My reason for this is I wanted to take a more analytical approach to the novel. Rather than just read it for my enjoyment as I did before. Because who says you can’t have fun while you’re working hard?

Be on the lookout for another post like this. Till next time...

- Matt Gorrell (creator of


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