Monday, July 26, 2010

The Well Read Writer

It's no secret that most readers are writers. What is frightening is how many writers aren't readers. Its a startling trend that has several in the industry asking questions.
  • How can you know what's selling in your genre if your not reading it? 
  • How can you grow as a writer if you're not exposing yourself to new styles of writing? 
  • How can you expect to be feed by a system if you're not buying in to it?
Reading is a MAJOR part of learning how to write. Not just passively reading or only reading books on writing either (though you can do both). You must actively read a novels, primarily in your genre but also others, and ask yourself the following questions:
  • Is this working for me? Why or why not?
  • What makes it fit into its genre?
  • What sets it apart from others in the genre?
  • What techniques are they employing (e.g. sentence structure, word choice, point of view, etc.)?
Understanding what those writers did to get published will help you improve your own writing. Read works from several different writers. One of my favorite things to do is to walk through my genre section in the book store and see what happens to catch my eye from writers I haven't heard of. If I like the cover copy and opening paragraph I buy it. I haven't been disappointed yet (though I did have to stop reading one because it was too disturbing--which is saying something coming from me). If you're not that adventurous, you can always as for recommendations from friends and fellow writers. I also follow two blogs/tweets that do book reviews and book recommendations:

The Book Smugglers: They review many of the latest and greatest in speculative fiction and paranormal romance. They are very thorough with their reviews and even participate in and share information from many industry events like Book Expo.

Flashlight Worthy Books: Flashlight Worthy covers all genres and gives great book recommendations for all age groups and interests. They compile handy lists based on themes and age groups, which have also been good for helping me find new books for family.  

Of course we are always making recommendations on this blog for great books on writing, because books on the craft are still important. However, it is the books in our genre of choice that we need to support most and that can teach us what we need to know to break into the industry.

Happy Writing!


  1. I know from reading that I want to write - how on Earth would you know otherwise?

  2. Exactly, Nicole! What was funny is right after I did this post one of the editors from Writer's Digest posted how she was surprised by how many authors don't read while they are working for fear of being influenced. Then when do you read, because I write all the time!

    Thanks for the comment. Feel free to let us know if you have a topic or question we can blog about.