Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Reading To Write

If you write in a certain genre, as I do, it makes sense to read other authors in the same genre to find out the latest ideas and trends. It also makes sense, to me at least, to read outside your genre, just in case there's something there that can help you.

I write comedy SF/F, though to date the three stories I've had published aren't comedy. Naturally I read the likes of Terry Pratchett, Gail Carriger and Tom Holt, all of whose writing I admire. Along with them I read the work of others whose style I don't like but who are successful writers.

I also read outside the genre and not just for relaxation. I read history, not only because I love the subject, but also because it can sometimes jog an idea for a novel, a scene in a novel or a short story. There's also SF, Science, Economics, Philosophy, Religion and others too for the same reasons.

Recently I have read three of Mitch Albom's books. Not only were they a thoughtful read, but his style is excellent. His sparse use of words is something that every writer could learn from, not just because he gets so much detail into a short space, but also because he focuses on the story itself without getting distracted.

Today, I bought two Stephen King books from a second hand shop. I'm not a fan of horror, but as King has been writing successfully since the 70s, I feel that there must be something I can learn from his style. The fact that his book about being a writer, On Writing, is the best book about the craft that I have ever read was also important in that choice. That they were £1.50 for the two helped even more in making the choice. I am looking forward to reading them.

If you're a writer struggling to find your 'voice', read widely in a number of different styles and genres. It can only help and may even point you towards something you hadn't considered and for which you have the talent for.

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2 comments:

T. Anne said...

I agre with reading widely. In fact I plan on cracking a few books myself today.

Victoria Snelling said...

Yeah, me too. I read thrillers for the plotting, romances because of how they convey emotion and relationship, spec fic because I love it, and non-fiction because there's loads of interesting things to read about. Sometimes my book club makes me read literary fiction; I don't enjoy that so much :-)