I've been thinking a lot lately about active and passive reading. By that I mean simply devouring a book or stopping to pause and consider why it's working, what specifically we love about the characters, their interactions with one another, how the author brings tension into scenes, and how they move the storyline forward.
As writers we need to remember we're always students in the craft. A vital first step is always to read in the genre we write but it's more than this. We need to study it too as if we were still in school dissecting story arcs.
I'm re-reading The Hunger Games as I get more and more excited about the movie and often I've stopped to re-read passages, pausing to consider why I think they work. There's also the lesson that nothing in a novel is there by accident so I've been taking note of how author Suzanne Collins plants ideas here and there (e.g. the gamekeeper's watch with the mockingjay, the two girls fleeing towards District 13). Everything has a deeper purpose. The novel is an onion with layers and layers building upon one another to produce this deeply rich narrative that works cohesively together as do all of the subplots.
What do you think makes a great novel work?