Sunday, July 30, 2017

Never Stop Reading

Stephen King put it right when he said that if you don't have time to read, then you don't have time to write.  This axiom should be obvious to anyone who wants to write, but I've found, surprisingly, that this isn't always the case.  A large number of writers I know tell me they don't have the time to read, and their time is better spent writing.

Most of us got into this business due to our love of books, so where did that love go?  I know that reading can be time consuming, but it's important to see what styles out there grab your attention.  What do you think about the description of events in books?  How well are characters developed?  You know your imagination and what you want to say, so it's real easy to take your imagination for granted and think that everyone has an insight into your soul.  However, this is a quick road to mediocrity.

There are many writers I love - Stephen King, JK Rowling, Timothy Zahn, Alan Dean Foster, William Forstchen, Tad Williams, and so on.  Their styles have inspired a great deal in my own writing, but I would have never known how they do what they do if I didn't read them(and continue to read them).  My next novel, Salvation Day, found so much inspiration from Stephen King's The Shining that it would've had an entirely different feel without the help.  I'd tried previously to build tension, but it was sloppy at best.  After reading The Shining, I finally got it.  I knew how to build subtly and not all at once.  Although not necessarily on the level of King, it's a much better book as a result.

So you have to read as diligently as you write.  Some folks write a little bit each day, whether it be 500 words or 5,000 words, but we write so we can stay sharp.  We must do the same when by reading.  Read a chapter or a few pages.  It doesn't have to be extensive, but it has to happen.  Without it, you'll end up with a crappily written tale that deserves little but the garbage heap.

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