Wednesday, 11 June 2008

What Have you Read Today?

Reading widely, and reading often, are essential habits to develop if you want to be a writer.

It's through reading that you really learn how writing works. If you've never read a book, you have no chance at all of writing one that can stand up for itself. Through reading you learn to understand grammar, punctuation, characterisation, dialogue, exposition—all the building-blocks of writing. And yet many people who want to write hardly read at all.

When you read, consider what you think the writer did well, and what you'd have done differently. Notice how the work is constructed, how the characters are exposed, and how the story is built. Think about the choices that the writer made, and how different choices would have resulted in a different book. Then go back and think about your own work, and how those points apply to it.


JJ Cooper said...

Concur. Read different styles and genre. However, I find that when I am writing I need to read in the same genre and POV. This simple mind just can't handle any different. Great blog.


Anonymous said...

Absolutely right. A writer not only reads but loves to read and knows about books and authors. I don't mean they have to study Eng Lit but be interested in what's selling, what isn't and what's around.

Whenever I run a fiction writing workshop, one of the first questions I ask is 'what novel are you reading at the moment?'

You'd be surprised how many people say, 'I'm too busy writing my novel to read anything else' or 'I'm worried I'll end up writing like the book I'm reading.' (You won't.)

And it comes as no surprise that those who show the most talent are those who read the most and with the most pleasure.

Jane Smith said...

JJ, thanks for your kind comments, and congratulations on your book deal.

Sally, I'm always amazed to hear people who want to write insist that they don't have the time to read. It's one of those basic things, isn't it?