What Do You Read?
As a writer what do you read?
Don’t know what to answer? I’ll help you. Pretend you’re lounging in your jammies. Look down at the floor
Are they mainly books in the genre you write? That’s good. After all, you should be learning from the masters in your genre. But you should also be reading the new authors to your genres to see what new tricks they bring to the table (or new mistakes, it never hurts to learn from other’s mistakes). By reading your genre you can get a feel for what your audience expects as well as avoid repeating tired plots or aspects. So immerse yourself in your genre!
Are many of the books in your TBR pile writer how-to books? We all love them. Some writers – I won’t name any names but they’ve confessed right on this blog – are a bit obsessed with writer how-tos. We all are searching for the magical key to writing the best book we can. And, ever hopeful, we are certain we will find it in that next how-to book. You may never find the magical key but you will learn something. So read those how-tos!
But what else do you read? If you hope to make it as a writer the answer should be: everything. Romance, history, mystery, YA, children’s, memoir, politics, humor, newspapers, magazines, blogs, tweets. You never know where the nugget of idea for your next WIP will be hiding. Maybe in the “Weird News” section of your local newspaper, maybe in the background of a character in a blockbuster thriller, maybe in the memory of a politician.
As writers we can learn, even from the genres we don’t seek out on a regular basis. Recently I read a genre which is my daughter’s favorite (but not mine) at her request. I felt it was “eh” but one particular scene stuck with me long after I finished the book. So I began asking myself why? Why could I not forget that scene in a series I would not read again, in a genre I didn’t particularly care for? Because the fact is, good writing is good writing no matter what shelf you find it on. So I dissected that scene until I felt I knew what made it so memorable. Hopefully I can use that information in my own writing.
So don’t let your TBR list be defined by what you write or even by what you particularly like. Read it all and see what unexpected things you’ll find.
What do you read and what lessons have you learned from your TBR?