I’ve always thought that to better yourself, reading books that are in your specific genre is the way to go.
And I’m more than postive that you’ve heard that before, am I right? I thought so. But, truly, what you read makes a massive difference in your writing style. I write fantasy. What do I typically read? Fantasy. Lots of people tell me to branch out, and I have to disagree. Because if I start reading romance, that will more than likely influence my work. I’m not a romance writer.
Not that there isn’t anything wrong with that, it’s just not my style.
Now, this is where the studying comes in. Do any of you remember learning in school about active and passive reading? Basically,
passive readers don’t gain much from reading. They skim the pages.
Active readers study what they’re reading. Notes are taken, favorite quotes are memorized or highlighted or written down,
My first copy of A Darker Shade of Magic is sticky noted to hell! It was an amazing story from an original author who has taught me so much since I first picked up her books.
That is what you want to be doing instead of picking up “The Elements of Style” of Stephen King’s “On Writing.” Those kinds of books will only teach you so much. I will admit, I did buy a writing book to help me out when I thought I needed it. It taught me absolutely nothing. And it wasn’t even for fictional writing, like it said it was.
I’m not trying to dissuade anyone from learning the craft, I’m just trying to get a point across. That you don’t necessarily need to learn it to be a better author.
Listed below are a few authors who didn’t major in writing or study the craft:
- Robert Ludlum, author of The Bourne Identity
- Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird
- Lee is a perfect example, I think. Her book is studied in schools, and it won the Pulitzer Prize. She didn’t need to read how the craft works to create motifs, et cetera.
- Michael Crichton, author of Jurassic Park
- John Grisham, author of many bestselling thrillers
- Danielle Steel, author of many women fictions
- J.K. Rowling, famously known for Harry Potter
- You cannot tell me Harry Potter doesn’t teach you anything, or have any significance to the writing industry. Rowling didn’t need to study the craft.
- Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes stories
- and many, many more
So, take what you can or want from this post, just don’t take it as a “my way or the highway” kind of thing, alright. I do believe reading books on the writing craft can be helpful. I just simply do not believe that it is absolutely important in becoming a better author.
Best of luck to you bookies, especially those who are my fellow writers!