If you're a novelist, do you read your fiction genre?
As a columnist, how many magazines do you read each month?
If you write short stories, have you read up online on what your fellow writers have created?
I am a huge advocate for reading similar genres and themes to what you are writing. It can help with style, vocabulary, inspiration, and tips in sticking with (or indeed mixing with) and emphasising your genre of choice.
For example, if you're writing crime set in the 1800's have you read any of these Victorian detective novels? If you're creating a whole new world, have you devoured any of these Top 25 Fantasy Books? If you want to make your readers' hearts melt, have you seen how these Top 10 Greatest Romance Novels writers have done it?
Without even realising it, if you read in your genre and writers whose style you enjoy, unconsciously you may start to mirror their technique. This is not copying, this is not plagiarism; it can be dangerous, but more often than not it's simply a way of seeing something good and trying to improve your own writing as a result. It can help with the structure of your novel, knowing when to end your chapters, how to develop a twist… etc etc etc.
I’m all for trying something new and reading widely, but if you don't tend to read the kinds of stories or articles you write, perhaps you should consider why not. How do you know what your readers will like or what they expect from your chapters and pages?
Consider this... Who are your favourite writers? What is your favourite book of all time? Have you tried writing in that genre?
You will give yourself a bigger head start on most other authors who haven't spent the time reading in the style and genre, and whose stories may not be as appropriate for the magazine or as easy to place on the bookshelf.
This weekend why not settle down for half an hour with a book or magazine within your writing genre. You might find something just clicks inside your mind and you’ll be dying to get back to the keyboard! It’ll keep you out of the cold, if nothing else.
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