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Saturday, September 8, 2007

Writer's Tip: Read, Read, Read

Here's a simple writing tip: Read. Read as many books as possible in the genre you're interested in. And then read other genres, even though they aren't as appealing. And then, keep reading. Read. Read. Read.

Why, you ask? Here are just a few things I learn from reading:

1. I get a sense of what other people are writing. An obvious one, isn't it? But not only that, I get an idea of what storylines are overdone or maybe, one that hasn't been done before. This helps when deciding which manuscripts would be good to send out...or which ones are simply best kept in my secret file.

2. I learn what kind of books I enjoy and what kind of books I don't like. Write what you enjoy reading.

3. I revel in the amazing writing out there and study every genius sentence, in the hopes that perhaps some of it will rub off on me. I even study the type of writing that simply makes my skin crawl. And I'm not talking about the scary, ghost stories out there. I'm talking about bad writing, which is a horror genre of its own kind, isn't it? Learn what constitutes bad writing, and you'll figure out what not to do.

4. Knowledge of different genres helps me experiment with my writing. Which for me means I practice writing in different voices for a story I'm thinking about, until I get the right narrator to tell the right story. And then, I can write away.

5. Reading gives me incredible lessons on pacing, character development, writing style, dialogue, plot development, and so forth. It's another thing to actually work it in my writing--that takes alot of work and time--but at least I know what works and doesn't work for me.

6. I get an idea of the publishers out there and the types of books they publish. This helps when I research publishers and identify the publishers I think and hope would be most interested in my work.

7. And, it's fun!

Do you have anything else to add?


Christine M said...

Those are all great tips. I'd say the only other thing I'd add is that if you want to be a writer - you have to write (not just think about it). Read and write. I guess they're pretty obvious tips!

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Joan Bauer said that she has a flippable sign on her door. One side says, "I am writing" and the other side says "I am thinking about writing." Generally, if you hear loud guffaws behind the door, Bauer is writing.

Erin said...

I agree with all you said. :)

Sarah Amick said...

I love what Gleeful said about, "I am thinking about writing." I always share a lot of touchstone texts with my students and we think about what it would be like to write like that. Then we go back and try it!
During parent teacher conferences I almost always make may mantra, "You are a better writer when you are a better reader and vice versa. They go hand in hand!" Lots to think about here!

Candace Salima (LDS Nora Roberts) said...

All I say is hear, hear! Read and read some more. It opens whole new horizons that were previously hidden from view.

MotherReader said...

I loved this post, pretty much because it made me feel better about all my reading as training for the book that's there just simmering in the deep recesses of my brain.

Jules said...

Ha! I love that notion of Bad Writing being a horror genre of its own.

Robin Brande said...

I agree with every single one of these! Great list. I especially like #2--that's more important than some people know.

Jen Barney said...