One of the things I never realized would stimulate my writing muse is reading wide. By this I mean venturing out beyond my usual, favorite genres, and reading (or listening) to books that would otherwise never have snagged my interest.
As an official reviewer for InD’Tale Magazine, I’m charged to do just that. Every month, I receive three books to read and review. Although the editors did allow me to list genres I absolutely would not read (I’m not a big fan of erotica), the limitations don’t go much beyond that. I never know what I’ll be reading next.
It’s sometimes challenging to remain neutral and not to review a book by how well I liked it. Yet I’ve learned to do just that. I find now I’m able to consume a vast variety of fiction, and while not always loving the read, can see the merits and weaknesses of each. What an enriching experience this can be.
I’m also acting as judge for a contest and was sent three books that, again, I would never have chosen to read on my own. Two are urban fantasy–not my cup of tea. I’m probably one of the few people on the face of this earth who has never read Harry Potter! Yet I have found both novels entertaining and enlightening.
One in particular combines vampires, werewolves, and fae (I didn’t even know what fae were, but I guess it means young fairies). The author has done this in such a uniquely entertaining way that I find I’m actually enjoying the book. That being said, I’m also becoming very good at spotting the weaknesses in the writing: repeated words, overuse of exclamation points, confusing point of view changes, etc.
I believe reading wide is making me a better writer, as well as sharpening my editing skills, which will certainly come in handy when putting my own words on the page. The experience has also sparked my imagination. Although I can’t ever see myself writing an urban fantasy or YA novel, there’s always some unique element that strikes me as inspiring.
My advice is, if you really want to expand your writing talents, read wide. You never know what nuggets of wisdom you’ll stumble across as you venture outside your comfort zone.