Why read?

InsecureWritersSupportGroup2

It’s February 3rd and time for another Insecure Writer’s Support Group monthly post. I may be Insecure but I’m putting aside the whining and complaining – for a few days at least.

Today I want to be positive and talk about the benefits of reading from a writer’s point of view. And by that I don’t mean just reading what you write, although as writers we should to do that a few times from a reader’s perspective.

For now, I’m talking about other books, not just for the sheer pleasure but for the lessons that we can learn. We can learn what works and what doesn’t from both great reads that keep us hooked from the first sentence, and from those shockers that are an endless struggle. In each novel there should be at least one lesson – even if it’s ‘make sure you use an editor’ or ‘flowing words are like magic’.

So what have I learned over the decades?

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Roger Woddis in 1986 – photo by BG

When I started out on my writer’s journey, my writing tutor, the late great Roger Woddis said that my writing suffered from too much ‘purple prose’. The problem stemmed from my passion for “Lord of the Rings” and the style of J.R.R. Tolkien. I was trying to emulate him without understanding the way that he used language. However, over the decades and with many re-reads, I am learning to see the master at work. And as I read other writers, I see that a writer can effectively use beautiful language without obscuring the meaning.

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The current lesson is about ‘Multiple POVs’, which is relevant since my current WIP, “Storms Compass”, tells the stories of various characters struggling to survive after a mega solar storm devastates the Earth. My critique partner suggested that I look at how Steve Harrison handles multiple viewpoints in TimeStorm”. The POVs each have their own chapter with the character’s name as the title. Each one feeds into the evolving plot, which has me gripped – so a review will follow very soon.  There is a main POV character and the other POVs add to his story.

I could go on, giving examples from books that I have read, but I want to end by directing you to K.M. Weiland, a writer whose website is an invaluable resource, and includes many articles that refer to novels and movies as examples. For instance, I am working through my character’s arcs at present, and she gives some great examples – see: http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/character-arcs-3/. This and other articles show the importance of reading other novels. The added bonus is that K.M Weiland writes novels in which she practices what she preaches, from her early novels Behold the Dawn and Dreamlander – both of which I enjoyed – to Storming, which is next on my To Read list.

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And beyond that I may be delving into the real classics like Machiavelli ‘s “The Prince” and the stories in “The Mabinogion“. We can all learn from the master storytellers of the past.

So read on dudes!

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The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. We post our thoughts on our own blogs. We talk about our doubts and the fears we have conquered. We discuss our struggles and triumphs. We offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling.

Please visit others in the group and connect with my fellow writers.

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter hashtag is #IWSG

And be sure to check out our Facebook group –https://www.facebook.com/groups/IWSG13/

The awesome co-hosts for the February 3 posting of the IWSG are Allison Gammons,Tamara Narayan, Eva E. Solar, Rachel Pattison, and Ann V. Friend! 

 

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17 thoughts on “Why read?

  1. I’ve discovered that I can learn a lot more from reading bad literature than good literature. Which means that when I really hate a book, I force myself to finish it, and I make sure that I remember what not to do.

  2. I love K.M. Weiland and how she deconstructs movies and novels to show what makes good storytelling. And how we can apply it to our own writing. Yes, keep reading, whether the story is brilliant or a struggle, you can still apply it to improve your writing.

    • Very pleased to give you the ‘shout out’. Of all the writing sites I follow, yours has to be one I refer back to often. Many thanks for all that you do, K. M. [Enjoying “Storming” at the moment.]

  3. Great post. I try to read a variety of genre by a variety of authors and always learn something – both positive and negative. I will check out K M Weiland. Have a great week.

  4. I really don’t understand how some writers can write and never read anything but their writing.
    When I started writing (I was a child) I woudl just imitate my favourite writers. I went along by imitation for along time, and I think that helped me a lot, both in finding my style and understanding what kind of stories I wanted to tell.
    It was a very slow process, and I admit that I improved a lot faster once I started confronting myself with peers. Still I think that was an important stage in my writing education.

    I still lvoe to read 🙂

  5. I am a big K M Weiland blog fan. There are several I have found to be invaluable. I have a tab For Writers on my blog and list of such Articles from several such blogs, which includes Weiland.

    Aren’t the covers of both Time Storm and Storming beautiful. Great blog post. Happy Belated IWSG Day
    Juneta Writer’s Gambit

    • Hi Juneta – happy belated IWSG day too. You remind me that I have to update my links to include K M Weiland… and yes, I love those covers. Covers are important… although sometimes deceptive.

  6. I’m often guilty of reading just for enjoyment as opposed to seeing if I can learn anything from it. Which is weird, because I love analyzing things. I hope you find some useful stuff in what you’re reading!

  7. Pingback: TimeStorm – a review | Writing Wings

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