Sunday, 22 August 2010

Reading is working towards better writing.

The writer who tells you he doesn't read, likely doesn't write well.

There's a lot of advice given to new writers, the most important I've found is the requirement to read. Not just read your favourite authors, or favourite genre but to really expand your reading and find out what sells. It's a truth that if you only read things in narrowly defined genres or novels printed decades ago that you aren't likely to know what sells. Not that of course you should write purely to sell, but if you (like me) desire it as a full time job, at some point, the concern of what sells has to arise.

I am an easy reader, able to read about any genre and enjoy it, I appreciate being able to do that and blame my mother for the same attitude, of course it's a blessing, not a curse, but does mean I have amassed a lot of novels given the wide range of tastes. But even liking most things there are books I don't readily enjoy, mainly romance or heavily involved historical pieces. Other than those - I have a vast collection of books, and read widely on a regular basis.

In my youth I wouldn't have agreed that it helped my writing, but I can see now that it does. Having read some truly questionable publishing choices, I see glaring errors and failures on the parts of authors - some are niggles, and make me wonder how they escaped the editing process, others so huge that they make me wonder who decided to publish it. Which of course sounds awfully arrogant from a non-published writer, but I don't mean it in a bad way, I'm sure these writers are wonderful people - I just feel bad their work contains such errors, errors which I see myself making every day that I write, some of the mistakes I spot, others my loyal test readers do.

Reading has made me more aware of these mistakes and I am grateful for that. Reading also teaches ways to get around problems, I suppose one of the fears is copying another author's work - but at least for me, I find more that I discover tricks of giving out information to the reader, ways to work complex scenarios but keep the reader informed without giving lengthy descriptions. I hope that my reading makes me a better writer, but in my love for reading, even if it doesn't, I'll say it does just to allow for my continual and obsessive purchasing of books ;-)

I hope as part of this blog to highlight books that I'm enjoying, and illustrate what I mean above where possible with books I've read. I have a current habit of flitting between books, leaving dozens of bookmarks scattered through a range of books, currently I am reading:

Feed by Mira Grant
Under the Dome by Stephen King

I recommend them both! ~Kitty

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