Read to write

Revision update: I can always tell the parts of my first draft where I was struggling. This morning, I found one of those parts at the beginning of this next chapter I’m working on, and I found a much better way to get into the story.

One of the many — far too many — blogs in my blog reader is Frenetic Reader, and she had a cool post today called I Would Read ___’s Books Just For ___. As she explains, she would read Beth Kephart‘s books just for the writing, Scott Westerfeld‘s books for the plots, Maureen Johnson‘s books for the charters, etc.

I love this. But it also gave me an idea about research for us writers.

If there’s an area we want to work on — plot, characters, word choices — we can read books that excel in those areas. We can learn something new, something good in every book we read. But, like Frenetic Reader points out, writers tend to be strongest in one or two areas, and the rest follows.

If you want to know what books to read for these different areas, read the reviews. Look at what’s on the bestseller lists and honors lists that are in the genre you’re writing and read what reviewers say. If you’re looking for books strong on plot, read the books reviewers say have a strong plot, or Google search review, your genre and plot and see what kind of results you get.

Most of the books in my must-read list I’ve found through reading about them in blogs, but I was only looking for popular books in the genre I write. From now on, I’m going to scour reviews and let them be my guide based on what I’m looking to build on.


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  1. Great advice. I know that most of the books I read tend to be focused on characters but I’ve recently tried to branch out to find some great examples of plot and setting. Reading is an excellent tool for helping to improve writing. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. Great idea – to read books flagged by reviewers for a particular strength – and to read with a specific strategy in mind.
    Thanks, Samantha.

  3. Thanks, Cassandra and Peggy. Yeah, reading is a great writing tool — and so enjoyable. 🙂

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