How Reading Has Shaped My Writing

vintage books

I’m always seeking advice from fellow authors. I’ve been told many times that ‘to be a good writer, one must read a lot’. Certainly, like most authors, I can say I’ve read a lot of books. Out of curiosity, I wondered if I’d be able to tally the number of books I’ve read in my lifetime. I figured this would require some crazy calculating, so I prepared my pen and paper, drawing neat lines of novel categories, eager to begin.

I started with literary classics, including titles I’d read in high school—Wuthering Heights, Grapes of Wrath, To Kill a Mockingbird, Lord of the Flies, Animal Farm, etc. After reviewing my list, I stumbled. Surely I’ve read more than 10 classics? Of course I have. But try and recall them all? Impossible.

Time to move on to horror novels. Scary books are easy to remember. Chilling psychopaths and evil-eyed clowns were added to my list. Okay, maybe I can do this.

What about romances? After all, this is the genre I write in, so I should be able to recall every single romance book, surely? Ahhh . . . not really. I’ve read oodles of romance books (and women’s fiction books highlighting romance). I’m attracted to a cornucopia of titles sitting on the N.Y. Times Bestseller’s List, in addition to novels by unknown authors and celebrity tell-all’s. In fact, each time I venture into my local bookstore and peruse the New Releases, in any category, I realize (alarmingly), I’ve read nearly every book on the shelves. My rewards card is bulging with points!

After a while, I gave up with my list, concluding that although I may love to read, I cannot even come close to guessing the number of books I’ve read over the years. Being a fan of numbers (and anything that can be categorized and counted), it bothers me slightly that I cannot come up with a nice sum. Say, one thousand and twenty three books. Or more specifically, two hundred biographies, five hundred romance novels and three hundred and twenty three horror novels. I just can’t do it. So the question then becomes, What have I learned from so much reading? That I can answer.

  1. I’ve read a lot of books. All genres, many different authors.
  2. My reading preferences are eclectic. Romances, horror novels, self-help books and endless survival-themed autobiographies streaming out of China, North Korea and the Middle East, fill my list.
  3. When writing, avoid word repetition. All authors make this mistake. Even great ones.
  4. Heroes sometimes materialize in the most unlikely people.
  5. I like to read about people making it to the other side intact. Survival stories are always inspiring.
  6. I’m terrified of clowns.
  7. I’m a sucker for a happy ending.
  8. Avoid overuse of adjectives.
  9. It’s nice to lose myself in a fairytale plot between a hunky hero and a gorgeous, feisty heroine. Romance novels reinforce that love is always possible.
  10. Reading has shown me the importance of description (settings, people, moods), as well as character and plot development.

Without a doubt, reading enhances writing and makes for a better writer. And though I may not be able to pull a magic number out of my hat, the number of books I’ve read isn’t what’s most important—it’s whether the books I’ve read (and will hopefully write) leave me with a memory, a feeling or an impression. If, at the end of the day, I’ve been informed, entertained, shocked or inspired, that’s all that counts.

By Kim Hotzon

 

 

 

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About The Passionate Writer/Designer

Every day brings new opportunities to create something meaningful and magical. Published author of contemporary romance and romantic suspense and event designer.
This entry was posted in A Bit of Catch-Up With Kim, Soul Mate Publishing, Writing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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