Read, read, read — It’s your job!

I’ve been editing. And I’m at a point where it’s a slow process. I feel like me and my novel are trying to outdo each other, and I’m trying to see what it’s hiding, and it’s waiting for me to do something…

Which leaves me sitting and staring and thinking, but I’m pretty sure I’m outwitting my novel, and I’m going to win and have it all fixed up, I’m certain of it!

In the midst of all this slowness, I’m reading. I read all the time, usually at bed time, but now I’m filling up day time hours reading as well. I’m not procrastinating with my writing, I’m just not rushing and making more of a muck with it.

I haven’t consciously been reading across genres, but now that I realize I have been I’ll try to make more of a point of doing so. Of exploring genres I would not normally gravitateย towards. I’ve also been reading more than one novel at a time (which is something I never do, unless I’m reading non-fiction).

In the last short while I’ve read, or begun:

fantasy, Sharon Shin, the first in the Twelve Houses series (I really liked it – anything to do with magic and I’m pretty much hooked). I liked it so much that I’ve begun the second in the series!

chick-lit, Cecelia Ahern, The Time of my LIfe. (pure turn off brain time. I need it on occasion)

The Help. not sure what genre that is – can I just call it fiction? I love it so far, the voice is amazing.

Cathryn Grant’s, Madison novellas. These books have their own genre: suburban noir. Madison is quirky and great and really fun to read!

The First Five Pages: writing book. It’s been a while since I’ve a writing book, and I read pertinent sections. A little refresher.

I think I’ll have to begin exploring horror – something I haven’t done in years. And it’s also been ages since I’ve read pure sci-fi.

When I first starting writing not that many years ago the advice I heard over and over was read the genre you’re writing. Recently, I’ve noticed a shift, nowย we’re being told to read cross-genre.

Personally, I learn different things from the various genres. YA teaches me a lot about characterization. Thriller teaches me about pace and plotting, and also about withholding and dispensing info. Romance teaches me about relationships and persona authenticity. Historical fiction teaches me about scene-setting and description. Fantasy about detail. And on and on and on. And usually I’ll get a lot more than that out of each individual novel.

How about you: do you read cross genre? And does your reading affect your writing?

34 thoughts on “Read, read, read — It’s your job!

  1. I’m editing and formatting my novel, too. And as I read (especially in other genres unlike my own “style?”) I tend to pick up the authors’ voices and styles. A trick I’ve recently discovered: Write a short story in that inherited voice to get it out of your system. I post them to my blog It works for me. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. I love that idea – and do you know this is the first time I hear of it! It has defenitly happened to me that I’ll be inspired by a voice and will need to be super focused to keep that voice away, and stick with mine. I will def try this next time! Thanks for the tip and for sharing!

  2. Thanks for the link to your blog, therealwadelazz. Great quotes up front. I am a fool for these kinds of quotes.

    Jennifer: I got the Henry Miller quote a long time ago. I don’t read across the breadth as I should. You make a great case for doing so though.

    1. Hi Marvin. Well, I don’t have to push myself to read across genres. I am not the type of person who can stick with one genre. But when I was younger for a time I only read horror, and for years only fantasy. Now, I’d like to push to read outside my comfort zone even more. I’ve done it a few times in the last little while– one notable novel that was way out of my typical read was Lost Memory of Skin, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised!

  3. For years I’ve read the same crime novel genre. I through in the odd change to that but that was my staple. This year I’ve signed up for the Eclectic Reader challenge where you read books in 12 different genres. I’m going to have to read YA, Romance, Sci-fi and other categories I would go out of my way to avoid. As a writer I want to improve and hopefully widening my reading it will help my writing.

    I’m looking forward to reading some other books and like you point out different genres will teach me different things. I hope so at least. I’m editing too and any distraction is welcomed ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Hi Pete, and welcome!!! I’ve read about this challenge on other blogs — sounds like something I’d have fun with. I gather it’s a book a month. I’ll stop by and see what you have to say about it on your blog.

      1. Oh yes, the Hunger Games is an amazing series (it’s 3 books). And the movie is coming out – very very intense read. I’m so often amazed by how intense some of these YA books are!
        It’s reminiscent of Blade Runner, if you’re familiar with that Pete.
        What a great recommendation!

  4. I’m on the flip side you are on. I used to read all over the place. I was what you call a hand-me-down reader. If a family member or friend handed me a book, I’d read it. I never discriminated. Now I read only general or literary fiction, like The Help, which I too liked. I’ve tried to force myself to go back to the person I once was–free spirit–but hard as I try, I just can’t.

    If I do go beyond general, it’s Stephen King. I can tolerate genre when it’s character driven, as his stories tend to be.

    1. Hi Trish – nice to see you ๐Ÿ™‚

      There are times like that, I think. Sometimes I’ll revert to only fantasy for a few novels in row, but I get tired of the same old, and need a switch. I think that after years of reading a genre, it becomes predictable. It’s hard to find a new author that shakes up a genre. But in lit fiction, the topics voices and styles are so random, I think you get a good mix.
      Is the Help comsidered lit fiction?
      It doesn’t seem literary to me…is there such a thing as just ‘fiction’?

  5. I tend to stick with contemporary fiction on the “light literary” side. I used to read a lot of mysteries, horror and some fantasy, but I haven’t read true sci-fi for decades. I’ve read across genres a bit in the last couple of years, including YA, because I’ve read books written by my writer friends. Still, since I’m struggling to write, I’d prefer to keep mainly to my own “genre” because I think that will help me develop my voice more.

    1. What is your genre, LInda?
      Do you characterize yourself as womens lit? I think I remember you posting and asking yourself just that very question.
      Honestly, your writing seems to me to a blend. My favourite kind of reading is actually hybrid novels. lol

      1. Oh yes, what is my genre? ๐Ÿ™‚ I don’t stick to one, so I guess that’s why my writing is hybridized (is that a word?) Sometimes, I call Brevity women’s fiction with a nod toward literary. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      2. Linda, I was quite scared at first when I began writing, because I knew I wasn’t able to stick to one genre, and I thought well then I’ll never be published because who would want to deal with an author who can’t commit to one genre. But, I’ve noticed that more and more authors are publishing in various genres (Atwood is one my very favourite examples of this!)
        Hears to hybridized writing! lol (there – it just became a word if it wasn’t before!)

  6. When I’m not reading within my genres, I generally prefer non-fiction. I love books like the Book of Lists and Significa by the Wallaces (and Wallechinsky) or anything about trivia or interesting characters from history. Truth IS stranger than fiction.

  7. I read a variety at the moment, whatever takes my fancy at any given moment ๐Ÿ™‚ I try to just read one book at a time, though I often will read one writing book alongside the fiction I am reading.

    1. This is the first time I’m reading more than one book at a time JC. And it happened because I’m reading paperback, and e-books (cathryn Grant, and the Help, which is a library e-loan that was made available while I was reading these others.) I read on the ipad when I’m downstairs and during the day. But at bedtime I like cuddling up with a good ‘book’. I haven’t gotten too accustomed yet to e-reading.

  8. I’m a complete genre-junkie. Left on my own I will sometimes go weeks without picking up a serious book. But, when I do that I quickly lose the ability to distinguish between good speculative fiction and bad speculative fiction. It’s like eating out at fast food or fast casual restaurants every night. It tastes good. It’s easy. It destroys your palate. One needs to change genre’s every once in a while.

    If one wants to be a good writer one needs to do more than that. Writers should spend a lot of time outside of mass market books and in the literary canon. If we still read it after 50/100/200 years then it has something to teach us. Writer’s are the professional athletes of the literary world. In order to perform to their potential they must feed themselves the nutritious stuff and keep a close watch on the sugary treats the consume.

    1. Hi Will – I’m stuffing myself with brownies as I’m reading your comment! lol. But, they’re homemade with cocoa and sweetened with applesauce and made with whole wheat flour, so I’m certain they’re healthy! lol. My reading is kind of the same way I think.
      I can’t actually read too much fluff I get bored very quickly.
      I love how you say that writers are the athletes of the lit world and must train accordingly! What a great ananlogy, and oh so true!
      thanks fro the comment.

  9. I’m trying to read more this year. Usually, I just pick up something when I feel like it, but noticed that I couldn’t think of much that I’d read last year.

    To combat that, I’m tracking what I read on Goodreads and challenging myself to read 50 books this year. I’m already a bit behind…gulp.

    I tend to read a little bit of everything, although some genres are harder for me than others (sci-fi: I love watching it, but have trouble getting into the books…weird).

    Sounds like you’ve got a good list going! Interested in your conclusions if you follow up on this post.

    1. I’m in awe, Cam! 50 books this year! A book a week! I’m kinda jealous – all that reading time! One of my absolute favourite things to do is get under a blanket and read, or have my lunch with a book – seems like a small indulgence, but just doesn’t get to happen as much I’d like it to.
      Keep us up to speed on your blog (I don’t think you’ve posted about this yet have you?) And good luck – I hope you get some great reads in.
      Are you are giving yourself reading guidelines, or just whaever catches you?

  10. I write for children (middle grades) so I read a lot of children’s books. But I mix it up with some current popular novels (Just finished The Help and loved it), historical and time travel. Every now and then I pick up a classic, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy etc. Nothing like the masters to inspire! Reading while writing is so important to me. I sneak in reading whenever I can.

    1. Hi Darlene, I love chidlren’s books. At the current moment I have way more children’s books than I do adult!
      The only time travel novel I’m familiar with is Time Traveler’s Wife – are there others – is this becoming a sub-genre? I’ll look into it.
      One of my goals is to read more of the classics. I have not read very many of them at all and I do think it would be beneficial for me to do so.

  11. Thanks for the mention for Madison Keith, I’m glad you’re enjoying it!

    I don’t read much across genres. I mostly read literary, crime, and what I call commercial which to me is literary with more focus on plot. (This is why genre makes my head ache, I don’t even know what that’s called — commercial, mainstream?) From time to time I read classics, but always feel I’m behind the ball on that front.

    It’s difficult to say how this affects my writing. How lacking in introspection and self-awareness am I??! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. lol, Cathryn!
      Literary with more focus on plot – I think you mean that the prose is literary style, but the storyline is more mainstream (not a standard literary focus).
      I have read just recently (in that first 5 pages book) that writing is more important to story. I have to say that I really don’t agree with that _ I’ll read a book with prose that is not so refined if the characters and plot grabs me, but it is only since I’ve begun writing that I’ve been able to read a novel with good writing and bad story line (and that’s only because I will be reading for the writing – something I could never do as a reader).
      As a writer, I love the prose part, the story line part requires much more attention from me.
      And your welcome for the mention ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Hi, I read crime/thrillers occasionally but a lot of true life stories as well, particularly those written in the first person and detailing some sort of obstacle the person has faced. I’ve found that reading makes very little impact on my writing, apart from to direct my focus elsewhere for a while – but that might just be me. Hope your editing’s going well.

    1. Redirectign your focus can be a great thing when you need it, Lawrence.
      I am most certainly influenced by my reading, even if at times it’s just that a well written book will inspire me to write.
      Thank you, the editing is going well, I’m seeing it clearly for the moment — it’s just slooooowwwwwe than I wish. I think this will forever be the case, and I try to not pay attention to the time passing by!
      Happy writing (and reading!) ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. How did I miss this post? Oh well, better late than never! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I think it is important for a writer to read as much as they can but I do feel WHAT you read is important because it can certainly influence your writing! Sometimes when I’m working on a story that is set in modern times and I happen to be reading say, Dickens or AC Doyle at the same time, my writing voice goes all Victorian on me and the story takes a weird turn! Lol.

    Saying that, I do read a lot of classics. Not sure why, my choices gravitate towards the old stuff. I admire that you are attempting to read different genres. Most people stick to what they know.
    I want to get into the habit of reading more modern fiction- thats my attempt at getting out of my comfort zone!

    1. It used to happen to me a lot more than it does now, NIsha, that I begin to mock the voice I’m reading. I’m pretty set in my voice now, but sometimes if writing is particularly inspiring to me, I notice I’ll want to write that way.
      I really like the comment of therealwaldazz, who writes short stories to shake off that voice. what a great idea!

      I’m the opposite of you – I’m hoping to dig into the classics more. I’m really not well read in those at all!

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