I’m just going to say it. If you are a writer, you NEED TO BE READING! I have been going to writer’s conferences for well over ten years. I have sat in on a lot of really good panels with some of the best of the best in the business. Every time the question arose of how to be better at writing, it always got the same response, “Are you reading?”
That’s right folks. We need to be reading. Why? I’ll tell you. As you read other books you learn the basics of writing. You learn what crafts a good scene and what makes great dialogue. You may be just reading, but in reality you are teaching your brain how to do something. Let’s say you were a lousy cook but wanted to be better. What do you need to do to improve? Well, yes you need to cook, but just cooking isn’t going to make you all that. You need to find out how to cook first. You need to follow a recipe. Once you get the basics down, then you can go out and experiment with other foods. But you have to get the basics first. There are talented authors just as there are talented chefs. As writers, we can use these talented authors to learn from.
If you want to write really good beginning in your story I recommend reading books with really good beginnings. Authors that fit this criteria would be, Jennifer A. Nielsen, James Dashner, or Neil Gaiman. Heck, Jennifer A. Nielsen’s book, The False Prince, got into a bidding war with publishers over the first chapter. I think she might have a few things to share about how to write a good beginning. We can’t sit down and talk with Jennifer about how she wrote the first chapter, well maybe you could, but probably not. What I suggest is getting a copy of the book and reading it. Study it out and see what she did. I shared a post about how to do this a while back here’s the link: http://wp.me/p2AmV1-kI.
If you want to write a good fantasy novel, read a good fantasy novel. Pay attention to books that are popular, chances are they aren’t bestsellers because they suck. Even Twilight, although it gets bashed all the time by ignorant writers, has amazing things to teach us. Stephanie Meyer knows how to relate to high school girls. Her books are filled with teen emotions. Readers sink their teeth (pun intended) into those emotions and they love the books. If you want to know how to add more emotions to you YA novel, read Twilight. If you want to know how to write a good action scene read books with great action scenes in them. I love to read James Patterson’s Alex Cross series. They are filled with thrilling action scenes. I read them and examine what it is that Patterson is doing to bring those scenes to life.
Yes, reading takes time and it takes effort, but it will improve your writing in more ways than you realize. You will become better and better because subconsciously you will be teaching your brain how to write better. Just as a beginning cook will learn from watching cooking shows, reading recipe books, and trying out grandma Bird’s gumbo soup recipe, so can better your writing by reading! I am currently reading The fourth book in the MG adventure series, Infinity Ring: Curse of the Ancients, by Matt De La Pena, and a MG urban fantasy book , The Swap, by Susan Quinn. Both books I highly recommend; Infinity Ring for suspense and action, and The Swap for magic systems and out loud funny inner character thoughts. What books are you reading? If you’re not, I’ve given you a list to start on. Read so you can write. Happy writing…and reading!