If I don’t have a book at my side, then you can be sure I’m not well.
This month I surpassed my reading goal for the year. Yay, go me! (okay, so I probably underestimated how many books I’d read – 60 seemed like a good starting point at first)
But as the month went on, I struggled to enjoy—and sometimes, even finish—books that I’d been looking forward to reading.
Don’t ask me why? Had I burned out? Possibly. Maybe my reading matter had simply become repetitive; always the same types of story.
Had I become a formulaic reader? Eek, now there’s a thought—a scary one at that.
Maybe I need to explore new genres, or return to some old favourites.
Whatever happens, I can’t let this go on.
I’m going to ask my writing buddies to help out.
So, I’m asking for recommendations—any genre except horror or romance or paranormal.
Message me on Facebook, send me a tweet (the links are on the sidebar) or leave a comment here.
I’ll be forever in your debt if you can help me out of this big, black hole.
I knew I’d get stuck on Q. Happens every time, and yeah I know X & Z are still to come and I can’t take a pass on those too.
So, I’m having some quiet time – reading for pleasure, maybe squeezing in the odd chapter or two of a beta read I’m working through, I might even write up a book review too. But, nothing today is related to my theme directly – but reading is important. As is some downtime. I’ve learnt to take my time when it comes to writing or revising my stories. I’ll still meet my deadlines, but some days are just not meant to be writing days.
So, hope you all get some breathing space too.
And I promise not to pull the same stunt on X & Z 🙂
It’s a constant dilemma. You just finish a book. There’s a gaping hole in your life that not even chocolates can fill- although you’ve tried, haven’t you? You need a new book to read and your Kindle is chock full of titles, but you can’t decide.
Do you try a new genre? Maybe give those vampires another go. (Nah, Not even going there!) So, you’re sticking with the mystery, thriller, suspense categories? Cool, I totally get it, too.
How about a new author? Yeah, that could work, but which one?
Do you pick the latest bestseller? The one everyone is raving about? Probably not – you’d rather make up your own mind, right? Some of those bestsellers have been real humdingers, haven’t they? And not in a good way.
So, an indie author, then? Great idea.
And now what? Are you going to ask for recommendations? Oh, lordy, lordy – you’ll be flooded with ‘buy my book’ appeals.
how about checking out the book clubs? See what they’re reading. That could work. Oh, but you cancelled your membership because they never picked anything you liked. Darn it.
have you considered the library? yeah, I know it’s a bus ride from here and closes at two, but might be worth investigating. okay, another time, then.
Where does that leave you? You’re joking, right? You’re going to pick a random book from your Kindle, aren’t you? So, the point of this was what? You only buy books from Indie authors anyway? You know what? Me too!
A writer has permanent access to the best teaching: in novels and short stories. In terms of technique, nothing is or can be hidden: it’s all there on the page. It’s up to the person reading as a writer to ‘unpack’ how a novel has been made.
Starting out, and throughout a writer’s career, seeing how other people do things is invaluable. Writing without reading is to write in the dark: it might work, but it’s an unnecessary handicap. Being well-read isn’t just about quantity but more a question of immersion, and familiarising yourself with how books feel. Reading is another way of developing the ‘habit’ of writing.
Books are a great comfort to any writer: you can see how others have faced the same problems you face. When you’re reading as a writer, even people’s ‘mistakes’ are invaluable. If you think a book doesn’t work, just articulating why will be useful.
Editing your writing is very important – some would say the most important aspect of writing. It’s often said that anyone can write but only writers can edit. Once that you have written your first draft and left it to settle for a while, you will need to go back and reflect on what you have written, and make changes accordingly.
Don’t be afraid to cut large parts of it if necessary.
You might find that when you have got into the story you can go back and cut out the opening sentences. Some openings may well have been used as a way to get into writing the story, or a particular passage, but the story might be more vibrant and enticing without them.
Remember that you are aiming to develop a character who is complex and not too predictable.
Remember that you are aiming to make the story as interesting and intriguing for the reader as you can.
Reflect on all your reading and any tricks or techniques that you see in the novels and stories that might help you.
Also reflect on the reading you’ve done that displays techniques and approaches that don’t seem, to you, to be working.
Writing book reviews
Noticing details about the construction of language, plot and story in what you read will help form your own writing taste and style. Note why you like or dislike about the books you’ve read; what you think works or doesn’t work. This ongoing engagement with your reading will feed into your writing practice. Even the simplest observations might be valuable. For example:
How long is the short story or novel?
Are there chapters? Sections? Parts?
If it’s a short story, how is it structured?
When and where is it set, do/how do these things appear to matter, and how are they conveyed?
From whose point of view is the story being told? Is it the story of one, or more than one of the characters?
Is there dialogue? If so, what does it contribute to the story? What does it tell you of the characters?
Is the language modern, plain, elaborate, colloquial?
Are there short or long sentences?
Are the sentences ‘properly formed’, or broken down? For example, ‘Get this. Bravery. That wasn’t even in it. Heroism? Maybe that was nearer the mark.’
Would you say that the story was a ‘page-turner’?
Is it full of ‘researched facts’?
Is there much ‘internal’ psychological or emotional detail, or is most of the novel or story taken up with ‘external’ events or description?
How do you learn of the main characters?
Are the minor characters sufficiently clear or too flat?
In your opinion, is it clearly aimed at a certain type of reader