• Jessica Sherry

Quick Writing Prompt: Learn a Book

I love this SNL skit featuring Cecily Strong as The Girl You Wish You Hadn't Started a Conversation with where she says, "Learn a book!" I often repeat the phrase to my fifteen-year-old daughter when she's bored. Like Cecily's character, my daughter rarely reads anything outside social media.

BUT, maybe your main character does. A person's library reveals a lot about them and what they're interested in, so what's your character reading? Try these quick questions:


  • Is your MC into self-help books? I'm a sucker for self-help books with curse words in the title, and last Christmas, I told myself I wouldn't buy anymore. What about your MC? If she's a sucker for self-improvement like me, what is she trying to improve in her life? Is it working? (Probably not)

  • Does she enjoy other nonfiction? Autobiographies, memoirs, tell-alls? Or is she learning about something, like infectious diseases, How to Read a North Carolina Beach, Investing for Dummies, Eat, Pray, Love.

  • Is fiction her jam? If yes, get as detailed with this as you can. There are so many genres these days: here's an awesome list to choose from. In other words, don't just say she likes romance novels... say she likes sports romances or holiday romances. I know someone *name withheld for obvious reasons* who enjoys dragon and shapeshifter romances. Yikes. Whatever your character reads, make it reflect who she is and what she wants in life.

  • What about magazines? They aren't obsolete yet! Besides, you can read him electronically now. If she has a shorter attention span or prefers pictures to text, she might choose Time or Good Housekeeping over a shapeshifter romance.

  • Go a little strange... maybe she likes reading technical manuals before bed or the police blotter in her local paper... maybe the obituaries.

So, what's on your MC's bedside table or on her bookshelf? What does it tell readers about her?


Share your book ideas below in the comments.


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