How does reading benefit a writer?

How does reading benefit a writer?

We’ve all asked and heard the advice, haven’t we? How do I improve writing? Read more. The pure broadness of this answer really doesn’t sit well with me. I’m not saying it’s not correct but it’s not exactly useful either. This post will delve into this question with a little more focus on what type of reading to consider and how we will be able to use our reading to our writing advantage.

 

What do you like to write?

This is the first question you need to ask yourself. You might like to write a specific genre, ie. thriller, romance etc, or you may prefer to write for a particular audience. Are you writing for a male, female audience for example? Or do you perhaps like to write for a younger audience? Whatever your answer is to this question, this is the type of reading that will help you. If you would like to write romantic YA novel, then that is the genre you know you need to read more. By doing this, you will soon begin to acknowledge what you find gripping and therefore what your readers will find gripping. You might even discover a technique that you really despise and know definitely what NOT to do in your own work. 

 

Whether you like or dislike the book – learn from it.

Just because you did not enjoy reading a certain book, doesn’t mean that you can’t learn from it. I once read a book that was given to me as a gift. At first I thought I would enjoy it but the author kept going off track to explain the characters backgrounds. It was really annoying but I persevered and realised afterwards that my books need to be more concise and fast paced. Quick task: Have a look through your books on your bookshelf and consider what you didn’t like about them. Was it plot, the way the characters were presented to you, or was it unrealistic? Once you have done this, consider what would have made it a better read. Whatever you think the improvements should be, take that advice and include it within your own writing. Remember you have been a reader here and have been disappointed with the outcome – only you as a reader can put that right by doing so in your own writing.

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Learn from your heroes.

If you have a favourite author you jump to when you pick up a new book, consider what you like about them. You might like the author because of how they grab your attention within the first few paragraphs, or you may find their dialogue really engaging. Here is were you can learn from them. If you struggle with dialogue for example, pick a scene that your author has created the demonstrates a great conversation. Now begin to analyse what makes their writing so engaging. Is it the word choice, the action that is placed in-between the conversation or perhaps it just seems effortless? Keep this scene in front of you and then have a go at mimicking this style in a scene of your own writing. You may find that this really helps you with your dialogue, you may even think that it doesn’t sound like you – and that’s okay. That just shows that you already know your own writing style.

 

Write a book review

Writing a book review can really help you understand the main themes of a book and help you consider how these can impact your own work. Sometimes when writing it can be easy to get lost in the genre you’re writing. However if you read a book in the genre you are wanting to write, you will be able to acknowledge any underlying themes that occur in this genre. Writing a review also helps you analyse plot, pacing and characterisation in greater detail. Sometimes the author can even write in such a way that the characters take over and drive the rest of the plot forward. However it is only with writing a book review that all of the authors hard labour of writing the book can be acknowledged.

By doing all of the above, the concept of ‘read more’ seems more solidified to me. Ultimately you can interpret the answer to the original question whichever you like. However I stand by that the concept of reading more was to be subjective to a writer’s own interpretation to their chosen genre. Feel free to have a go at my suggestions and let me know if they work for you. 

Need to Know

Need to Know by Karen Cleveland, Hardback, 304 pages, £12.99 at Waterstones.

Cleveland’s debut novel has been praised by various thriller novelists and for good reason. Need to Know is situated in America and tries to keep up with the lives of Viv and Matt. Oh and when I mean keep up, I mean running behind.

The novel begins extremely fast paced as the reader is thrown into the action and tries to help out Viv in her most difficult decision. Of course, Vivian’s situations may always seem difficult when working for the CIA but when she uncovers something that throws her life off balance, it is difficult not to try and help.

“you’ll miss dinner, stay up far too late, and feel tired at work tomorrow. This is that kind of book. Superb.” – Lee Child

Cleveland’s ideas are thoroughly researched and her characters are likeable and seem so real that it is difficult to just acknowledge them as characters in a book. It is for this reason as to why the reader will find them so attached to this novel.

 

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When reading Need to Know it is clear to see that Cleveland knows her readers well. She understands what we’re thinking and knows how to throw the readers off track. By the end of this novel you will be locking yourself in your room, desperate not to be disturbed whilst you finish the last few chapters.

After being an avid reader or both thriller and crime novels, Need to Know has by far been one of my favourite books to review. That hungover feeling of finishing a book never really came for this book because the closure given to the reader was just right. Her plot and narrative are so well written that the only type of questions you will have once finishing the novel are, Who is Karen Cleveland and what else has she written?

Guaranteed to keep you guessing on information you Need to Know.

Please follow the link here to purchase a copy today!