The reading writer

I’ve mentioned before that I believe you should read lots to become a better writer. In fact I’d probably say it was one of my golden rules of writing, but what I have failed to say is that writers should read widely and outside of their comfort zones. So if you are a science fiction writer, read a romance, read a classic, read a thriller or read a book on financial intelligence.

I generally try to alternate between fiction and non-fiction, as well as sampling a good mix of biographies. Books that have been highly recommended or books that have been on the best seller list will also make it onto my reading list, no matter how uninteresting I find the topic. Those books you read to understand what it is about them that won them such a special place in their reader’s heart.

Many writers say they don’t read because they don’t want to influence their writing style or inadvertently steal ideas. The thing is, reading other people’s writing has so much it can teach you. Fictional works can show you styles and techniques that you might not have considered, non-fictional work gives you plenty of material for story ideas, and biographies help to give you ideas for realistic, complicated and well developed characters.

So I’ve thrown a few links to non-fiction books below. These are non-fiction books I’ve really enjoyed and learned a lot from, but the list is endless and your local library will allow you to freely sample books to which you might be otherwise disinclined to commit.

Rick Smith & Bruce Lourie – Slow death by rubber duck
Simon Nasht – Huber Wilkins the last explorer
William Goldman – Which lie did I tell? More adventures in the screen trade
Stephen King – On Writing

Hubert Wilkins
Which Lie Did I Tell? More adventures in the screen trade

So remember; read widely, read recklessly and read openly.

Happy reading,


One thought on “The reading writer”

  1. Nice post! As an SF writer and a YA writer and a Children’s writer I try to read everything successful in these three genres as well as other popular books. Especially things with a bit of romance in them as I really suck at writing romance and I can see a bit of romance in an SF book really makes it sell.
    I love it when I find things that contradict my beliefs about publishing. Like, I try to tone down my “wacky” but then I read something like Daniel Pinkwater’s Catwhiskered Girl and I realise that full-blown wacky can still be published.
    Yes, definitely read a lot.

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