I am at an in-between time, finished my first novel, and waiting for my editors to finish their first read before re-writes begin. What do I do? I read! I read novels. I read novels by authors that I love, and novels by authors I am not familiar with. I am learning all the time from what I am reading!
Study the style of your favorite authors. What draws you to them! I would venture to say that it is not just the type of book, i.e. mystery, romance, Amish stories, historical. I think that you will find it is usually the way that the author puts their sentences together. I know, it seems almost too simple, but as Strunk and White say in their classic book about writing, The Elements of Style:
" A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. "
Favorite authors--Check the sentence structure, what do you like about it? What do you do differently?
New authors--what errors do you see? Is there a refreshing new style? Is that why they won an award?
2) Use of descriptive wording
Not just the descriptive words that explain a setting, but use of descriptive verbs. I marvel at choices of adjectives and adverbs used in various books.
" . . .instead of . . . harboring hope in their hearts." J. Kirkpatrick, A Mending at the Edge, using "harboring" instead of "having".
" . . . giving Arnie a pitiful little wave as he opened the door . . ." F. Peretti, in Illusion, describing an attitude of the heart through a descriptive gesture.
Which words does the author use that you never thought of using? Is that what you like about his/her writing?
3) Repetitive story?
Some books are produced for commercial value only. The same plot format is used in a series of books, with "the names have been changed to protect the innocent" as it was always said in the old Dragnet television series. I recently I read a series of books by the same author that not only used a similar plot for each one, but also repeated the thoughts of the characters over and over. (That series will remain unnamed.)
As writers and bloggers, we can learn valuable lessons from reading. May I say that reading is a part of our craft! We must read to learn, not only to read but to notice what it is that we like and make those habits our own!