Monday, July 30, 2012

Developing Your Writing Skill #2

by James Duckett

Two weeks I blogged on how writing is more a skill than a talent. Since it is a skill, it can be developed and improved. Last week I discussed that writing is the most valuable away to develop. The second advice on writing skill development is to READ. And to read a lot! And I'm not talking about reading on how to write (I will save that for next week), but reading good books.

This is an opportunity to learn from the greats. Not so much that you can steal from them, but learning the language of writing can be accelerated by reading what good writing should look, sound, and feel like. Also, if you want to write within a certain genre, it is best to familiarize yourself with that genre. Let me give you a tip: doing a few Google searches and reading an Wikipedia article on the genre of your choice isn't going to get you there. No, you have to READ your genre to understand what works and what doesn't work. Also, if you don't love the genre enough to read it yourself, your lack of love for the genre will show in your writings.

I try to analyze what I've read and imagine how they developed their story. I often think, "I wonder what inspired this part here." After reading a book I take some time to ponder the storyline to see if something inspires me one way or the other.

A recent example:  it never occurred to me until this week how stellar James Dashner is at opening a story. So I analyzed it a bit and decided to blog about it on my personal blog. Do the same thing. What blew you away about certain books? What made you fall in love with such favorites as Dune, The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings, or Price and Prejudice? Can you incorporate some of the things you love into your story?

Also, I'd even advise reading outside of your genre. It could inspire you to add something new to your story or possibly even reinvent the genre that you love so well. Even if it doesn't, you can still learn by reading really great writers.

I've heard time and time again that if you don't read you have no business even trying to write. I've asked a few writers if they do any reading when they are not writing. Without fail, every single one of them takes time out of their busy writing schedule to put in some reading. When I've read books on writing, nearly all of them agree that you must read in order to become a better writer.

So remember, great writers read!!

Until next week when we discuss Developing Your Writing Skill #3: Reading books on writing!

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