Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A New Writer's Mistake--Not Reading

“The most damaging mistake I see new writers making is not reading widely and broadly--both within their own genres and others.” -- Liz Scheier in “Earth to writer--listen up.” [The Writer, May 2010]
I’ve expanded my reading in the past few months. I went to the library and borrowed books written by authors I wasn’t familiar with. My daughter gave me a Barnes & Noble gift card for Christmas, and I spent part of it on books by more authors I’d never read. I’m glad I did.

It’s easy to get “in a rut” reading authors we know we like. But I’ve learned a lot from my recent readings. In some cases, the authors showed me new ways to present a character, or to describe action. Other times, I learned a lot about how NOT to do this. I’ve found voices I liked very much and a few I didn’t. I learned about pacing, and word choice, and story development. I read a number of books that I couldn’t put down. I purchased a book by a well known author I’d never read and didn’t finish it.

A number of my flash stories fit into the horror genre, yet I’ve never read a horror book. I guess that should be on my next to-read list, once I finish the ones I have. I started a Stephen King book (I don’t remember which one) and read about fifty pages before putting it away. That doesn’t mean SK isn’t a good writer. He’s just not one I enjoy.

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