Reading various blog interviews with published writers and agents, there is one piece of reoccurring advice that is proffered and that is "Read, read, read". Being a book addict this is easy advice to follow, as I simply don’t feel grounded if I haven’t got a book on the go.
But that nugget of advice also infers that there are writers out there who do not read extensively, and that is an astounding thought to me. For a writer, a good story is only the top layer of what reading a book offers. Each tome becomes its own source of ideas and vocabulary, true, but in addition there are craft choices to be explored.
From my reading I can see different Points Of View in action. From there I try them out in my own writing. In doing so I’ve worked out that the POV that does it for me is the First Person Present. Stepping on from POV, there is Voice, which is so important to my own writing style. Suddenly a library of books becomes its own crowd. Reading Meg Cabot’s books many moons ago opened my eyes to appreciating a story’s voice. Then comes structure and pace, manipulating the reader throughout the plot. Flashback, foreshadowing and twists; “Mmmmmm,” I hum, with a Homer Simpson & Doughnuts-like satisfaction...
And above all, reading has informed me what I want to write. I really enjoy a good Roman mystery, but I'm not remotely inclined to try it myself. I know now that Zombie fiction doesn’t interest me at all, whether reading or writing. On the other hand, having read Cathy Hopkins’ Mates Dates series years ago now, I had an overwhelming urge to attempt writing teen fiction. It got my mind racing with dialogue and scenarios. I recognised those voices, their opinions and their language. I still think I'm a teen in my head.
From there I read some YA fiction and that's when I really felt at home. That's not to say I don’t deviate every so often to ideas for younger or even older stories, but I know -from reading- where the basis for my writing practice is. Reading has led me to my start-point, it has shaped my platform, and still encourages me to try new styles and techniques. And what’s more, with every new book I read – or old book that I revisit for that matter - it just keeps on giving.
How can any writer be passing up gifts like that?