Monday, June 7, 2010
Read to Learn
By increasing the quantity and variety of books you read (fiction for a fiction writer etc), you will:
Expose yourself to different writing styles. Style is an illusive creature with so many elements that make up its creation. We all want to find our own style so, to keep from becoming a mere copy of another, it’s best to expose ourselves to a wide variety of differing styles. You will then find your own style that is truly your own.
Increase your vocabulary. While some writers say a large vocabulary is unnecessary to better your writing skills, I disagree. We need words to express our thoughts so the more words we can draw from means our thoughts will become more succinct.
Better the way you use words. Reading more not only increases your vocabulary, but also improves the way you use those new words. You aren’t so tempted to use a word because it sounds fancy. You use it because it’s the right fit.
See punctuation in action. There’s only so many books on punctuation you can read or classes you can attend before you realise your greatest cementer of that new found knowledge is seeing it in action. It’s only then that we gain that deeper understanding to be able to tap its power.
Exercise your mind’s eye. Imagination is essential for all writers. When we read more, our imaginations are fed juicy morsels of potential inspiration.
Explore the use of pace. After reading some old classics, I decided I wanted to write a fast paced book. Then I read some of Matthew Riley’s books which drowned me in super fast action and left me gasping for air. It’s one thing to be told about the importance of pace in a book, another to find your own balance that works for you.
This post is starting to get a bit long so I’ll stop there, but I could so easily go on about the benefits of reading.
Can you think of other benefits that reading has on a writer? Do you try to read a wide variety of books or do you tend to only read the same genre? How many books would you read per month or in a year on average?