Writing goes hand in hand with reading. While some of us write for our own pleasure, most write to be read. To do that well, you need to study your genre. If you want to write mysteries, read mysteries. If you write fantasy, read fantasy. It’s as simple as that. Study the work of others. See what worked and what didn’t. Knowing what others are doing can be invaluable. Learning what works and what doesn’t is also good. You can put your own twist on the former and avoid the latter.
Reading the work of others writing in your genre can help you decide what you want to do. It can teach you what you need to become a better writer. Strive to write better than those you have read. I read novels, set them aside. Then I read them again. On the second read, I pay close attention to what they do right and what they do wrong. That way, I can learn to avoid the pitfalls the author fell into.
Reading the works of others leads us to finding out what we like. That sounds silly, but it is true. We can’t know what we like to write unless we read and learn just what that is. While it seems ridiculous to think we can’t know what we like until we read it, that is true. How do we know we like something until we have experience it?
Reading is a relaxing pastime. There is nothing quite like curling up with a good book. Reading can take you away from your mundane life into the story. That’s assuming the author has done its work competently. That is the goal of every writer — to transport readers into the fictional world. A lot of a writer’s work goes into making that fictional world as real as possible. Reading and the resulting learning that follows allows you to do that. Equate reading with research, which in turn can give you the tools you need to make your writing stand out.
Interviews with top authors indicates that the best of them read and they read extensively. They read and you should read as well. You should strive to learn something new every day. Reading can help you do that. Learn whatever you can as often as you can. Reading in your genre can help you do that.
So read the genre you write in. Learn what has been done, what works, what didn’t work. Then write your own stories and put your own words out there for someone else to read and learn from. It’s the only way to perfect the craft. Perfecting the craft is what each writer should strive for. Reading is the key to writing well. Read and you will improve your writing. So get out there and read, then write.
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