So, we all read, right?
I mean, that’s the big unifier here. We’re readers and writers. Books are kinda the entire point of this blog and this website.
In one of the writing groups I’m in though, there have been several posts over the past month or so asking if you HAVE to read in order to be a writer…
And it just blows my mind.
I mean, I guess you don’t HAVE to, but…
I guess I just don’t get it.
On the one hand it’s as if they think they’re too good to bother reading anyone else’s work. Or too good to have anything to learn from another writer.
On the other hand…Don’t these people love stories? I mean…that’s the point of writing fiction.
Without a love of stories…why write?
And if you have a love for stories, why wouldn’t you want to read?
I’ve always loved reading. Seeing different worlds in my mind, living a million different lives, experiencing magic and dragon fights and run-ins with serial killers and secret societies…I just love it.
And it’s so deeply connected to writing. It’s literally the other side of the coin.
So, while it isn’t technically a requirement to be an avid reader in order to write, here’s why you probably should read.
Now, of course there are the super obvious reasons.
First and foremost, reading is fucking awesome.
But also, it helps you see other perspectives and worlds and experiences. It opens your mind to other lifestyles. It allows for an escape when the real world is too much and an adventure when real life feels stagnant.
Reading sparks creativity and stirs the imagination.
But for writers, it also teaches us more about the thing we’re trying to do.
You’d be amazed just how much you can learn through osmosis.
Flow is massively important. You don’t want your readers to feel like they have to drag themselves through your book.
Guess what can show you what makes a book drag on?
Fucking reading a book, that’s what.
It shows you how to vary your sentence lengths to make your prose feel musical. It sounds better in your head, or read aloud, if you switch that shit up.
But if you never read…
How the hell will you know that?
You’ll turn out a whole book with all the damn sentences structured the same way and no one will want to read it.
Story structure can also be absorbed organically, just by reading. If you read a lot, you know that there will be a certain progression in a book, even if the author has taken it upon themselves to jump around in the timeline. You know that there will be a lot of build up, some twists, a big climactic event, and then a little bit more to tidy things up.
Naturally, you just know that most of the book takes place before the big Big BIG scene.
Reading also teaches you what you like and don’t like in a book. It shows you what’s common in your genre.
Which tropes work for your audience and which ones don’t?
What variations of those tropes have been tried?
Why were they successful? Why did they fail?
What would have made them better?
Wanna know how to learn that stuff? Open a damn book.
Reading teaches you little nuances of grammar.
It also teaches you that sometimes it’s okay to break grammar rules (hell, it’s okay to break pretty much any writing rule) if it’s appropriate for the style of writing or makes some sort of point in the story.
Stephen King’s short story, The End of the Whole Mess, illustrates this perfectly. I won’t say how/why/when he does it because spoilers, but he abandons spelling, grammar, punctuation, syntax, EVERYTHING in the name of the story, and it MAKES the story. I would’ve forgotten it in a heartbeat if not for this stroke of genius.
But reading doesn’t just make for a bunch of rule-breaking, outlaw writers. The only way you learn when it’s okay to break rules is by learning the rules.
Books do that! They teach you the rules, and show you why certain things are done the way they are.
When you read a book with 25 main characters and start losing track, you know not to do that. When you read a book that switches perspectives mid-paragraph and you have to stop and go back to sort out who’s talking…you know not to do that. It’s so much easier for the reader if you switch at the start of a new chapter.
The first time you read a 79 page chapter, you’ll see why things are usually broken up a bit more than that. So readers can find stopping points if they need to. To keep readers on their toes. To stop scenes in the middle and keep people turning pages.
Even if you read like me (aka slow as fuck), you’re still going to pick up on stuff.
So go read.
Stop asking if you should or if you have to read to be a writer.
Just read, already.
And speaking of reading…
Soul Bearer releases in just over a week!!!! Holy freaking crap!
Okay. So, I’m pretty excited. Obviously.
And you should be, too. I’ll be hosting a giveaway, in which TEN people will get a free, signed hardback copy of Soul Bearer. And some freaking awesome swag…designed by yours truly.
And one of those winners (this one chosen exclusively from my email subscriber list…hint hint) will also get a free, signed copy of my novella, Annabelle.
I’ll be posting the official rules, as well as pictures of the awesome prizes, Tuesday.
I have yet to decide whether it’ll be international or strictly in the United States (sorry). I’ll announce that with the rules, obviously, so keep an eye out for my posts on IG and FB.
International shipping is expensive as fuck and so are veterinary bills. And I’m a broke bitch from way back. So we’ll see how expensive it turns out to be when we pick up Mr. Pickles, today or tomorrow.
If you can’t tell from the fact that I’ve posted updates every day since he went to the vet, he’s kinda important to me. Lol. Plus, he’s my writing buddy and usually climbs all over me while I do my blog posts or edit or write.
So not having him on my lap right now is weird…
Anyway, I also have some special things planned for release day (Oct. 22nd). I’m going to try to record a reading of the prologue of Soul Bearer for all of you. I also intend to do my very first live on IG and FB, talking about the book and answering questions.
I just have to learn how to do both of those things…Lol.
If you saw the picture I posted on IG and FB of the guy laughing maniacally with his parachute on fire…Yeah, that’s my mind, a lot of the time.
Chaos and literally just doing things.
Keep reading. (Seriously. Keep reading.) Keep writing.