Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Reading to Learn

'Read to Learn' is an oft given piece of advice to writers, but read what?

Reading within your chosen genre shows you what to look for as you write your masterpiece, but does it help you to write? Not always.

If you restrict yourself to your chosen genre, then you may end up repeating what others have done instead of creating something a little different in your own voice. If you read around, you will become a more balanced writer.

Want to inject some thrilling scenes into your romance? Read a thriller. Want to create a reliable scientific character? Read a biography of a scientist. Read history, read psychology, read horror and science fiction. Got a problem with dialogue? Read a play, film or tv script. Reading a bad book can help you highlight faults in your own writing.

DON'T get too hooked on technical books about the process of writing or you will end up with sixteen different ways of doing the same thing, none of which actually help you write YOUR way.

Read around, but if you're finding a book boring put it down and read something else. Don't read a book because you feel you ought to, read it for the right reason.

Read other genres, non-fiction, plays and anything else you can lay your hands on (news magazines are good if you want to write faced paced narrative) and let the knowledge seep into your mind. You'll be surprised how much you remember when you're writing your own little piece of history.


Caitlin said...

I have to admit that I don't believe I've ever written a technical book about writing!

But wonderful advice. I read all over the genre spectrum, not just in the genres that I write. Not only does it help expand your writing skills, but how boring would it be to only read one type of book?

Martin Willoughby said...

Caitlin: Reading around has done me more good than reading technical books anyway.