By G. Ellen
When I first started to write, I was reading a lot of gothic romances and classical romances. Ones like Jane Eyre. I loved Jane Eyre. My first stories were dark, romantic and dramatic. As I got older, I started reading mystery suspense type books, less romance. My stories became less dramatic and more violent.
When I returned home from a mission, I wanted to use the area as a backdrop for a romantic suspense novel. I began reading more LDS centered fiction, and fell in love with a couple of books by a author who writes in first person--which is my favorite medium. I finished the novel. My employer let me print it at work (as I had no way to print it) and I entered it in the Utah Arts Council competition. Obviously it didn’t win, or you would have heard of me way before this. It was the first completed full length novel I’d finished. I was devastated. I didn’t get a review or critique of my work. Just got it sent back in the self addressed envelope I’d provided.
Now that I’ve been writing for much longer, I can see where that poor thing didn’t even catch someone’s eye. I like it much better now. I think this is probably the 10th time I have rewritten it. I have also read many other genres, and my perception and abilities have grown.
When a writer tells you (upon being asked the ever asked question, 'how do I become a better writer?') to read, they mean it. Reading other works broadens your understanding and abilities. You see where a sentence works better or where a broader vocabulary fits a character or doesn’t, how to write what you know, (unless it’s fantasy, and then it can be whatever you like ;) and how to do the length of your chapters or do a hook at the beginning of a chapter.
The best way is to find someone who sells lots of books and see what it is about their writing that people like. You have to be careful though, because what you read might turn up in what you write. The mind is funny that way.