Read as many books as possible in the genre you’re interested in. And then read other genres, even though they aren’t as appealing. And then, keep reading. Read. Read. Read.
Here are just a few things I learn from reading:
1. I get a sense of what other people are writing. An obvious one, isn’t it? But not only that, I get an idea of what storylines are overdone or maybe, one that hasn’t been done before. This helps when deciding which manuscripts would be good to send out…or which ones are simply best kept in my secret file.
2. I learn what kind of books I enjoy and what kind of books I don’t like. Write what you enjoy reading.
3. I revel in the amazing writing out there and study every genius sentence, in the hopes that perhaps some of it will rub off on me. I even study the type of writing that simply makes my skin crawl. And I’m not talking about the scary, ghost stories out there. I’m talking about bad writing, which is a horror genre of its own kind, isn’t it? Learn what constitutes bad writing, and you’ll figure out what not to do.
4. Knowledge of different genres helps me experiment with my writing. Which for me means I practice writing in different voices for a story I’m thinking about, until I get the right narrator to tell the right story. And then, I can write away.
5. Reading gives me incredible lessons on pacing, character development, writing style, dialogue, plot development, and so forth. It’s another thing to actually work it in my writing–that takes alot of work and time–but at least I know what works and doesn’t work for me.
6. I get an idea of the publishers out there and the types of books they publish. This helps when I research publishers and identify the publishers I think and hope would be most interested in my work.
7. And, it’s fun!
Do you have anything else to add?