It is advice that you hear all the time. Writers should read widely. They should read outside of their preferred genre. Some people even go so far as to give you a specific list of books you must read (I always worry when someone tells me I must read something – it usually leads to me spending many weeks turning one page at a time and finding multiple other things to do).
I do however think it is good advice to read anything and everything you have the time to read – even things you know you are going to hate before you begin them. Here are my 5 reasons why:
1. It is less likely you will end up emulating one particular author or group or authors if you have read widely. Having seen language used so many different ways it is unlikely you will latch onto any one person’s style and so you have more chance to find your own voice.
2. Very few books fall into only one genre. Most have elements of many genres mixed together. Fantasy for instance usually has adventure, mystery, coming of age, romance, drama, horror and a range of other genres interlaced. It helps to have read a wide range of genres so that you can develop these ideas within your own genre.
3. Sometimes you discover something amazing. As I said, I usually worry when someone gives me a book and tells me I have to read it. I tend to have images of high school going through my brain and trying to read the class novel and not fall asleep and then remember enough of the story to write about it afterward. But sometimes, you discover a real gem. Something that just works for you.
4. Even reading something you don’t like can improve your writing. If you critically analyse what it is you don’t like about what you are reading it will make you more critical of your own writing and how the reader will receive it.
5. Particularly if you are write what you know kind of author, more experiences are better. Reading outside your genre, you never know what you might learn.
What do you think? Do you read outside your genre or do you stick with what you know?
Also, what is the worst book you’ve ever had to read because someone has requested you read it?
Comments are closed.