Diverse Reading Lists = Fresh, Original Writing

I read a blog recently that touched on how important reading is for writers. The main lesson was that successful writers are also avid readers. I couldn’t agree more. Writing experts often advise new writers to read books in within the genre they want to write. If you want to write Young Adult, you should read as many books in this genre as you can. This is good advice, but I fear that too many writers take this piece of advice to an extreme.  

The worst thing any writer can do is limit their reading lists to only their preferred genre.  Doing so is not going to provide the fresh, original writing that so many avid readers crave. If anything, you may find yourself in a hole recreating someone else’s work without realizing it.

For example, shortly after the Twilight Series came out, it seemed as if every YA book on the market ran with themes that paralleled the Twilight books. Not all of them were paranormal romance books but more than one centered on a female protagonist who fell in love with a mysterious boy. Soon enough, she started to blow off her own family to spend time with his, becoming BFFs with his sister. Then drama ensued: someone was killed or maimed, bad people moved into town, etc., etc.  By the end of the book, the young couple were happy together but maybe preparing for a new battle in the second or third book. So many of these books flooded the market, I wondered if it was because new writers were reading too many of one genre. 

One of the best things that happened to me from my time with Pilcrow & Dagger is that LeeAnn and I began interviewing self-published authors. We try to make sure that each author has published books that fits the theme of our issues. This has forced me to read books in genres I wouldn’t normally read. And while I haven’t liked every book I’ve read, I’ve learned something about myself and my writing from each book.

But, writing isn’t my only interest.  I’m also interested in cooking collecting recipes, crocheting, and I’ve developed a recent interest in computer science – specifically malware. My reading list has now expanded from novels within a wider range of genres to reading blogs about book reviews, writing advice, and technical manuals – each of which has inspired an idea I’ve used to help my stories grow.

Original story ideas can come from the most unusual places. Step outside of your comfort zone and take a look at how other reading materials can help you develop your craft.

Pilcrow & Dagger is now accepting submissions for the April issue. The theme is “Dirty Little Secrets.” Have you ever killed someone? Had problems hiding the body? Cheated on your taxes? Cheated on your boyfriend? Cheated on your boyfriend with his sister’s boyfriend’s boss? It’s time to empty out the skeletons in your closet! Get your short stories, poems and essays in today! The deadline for this issue is March 1, 2017.



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