NaNoDodo Day 17: Read All The Books

By Anne Perry

Posted on November 17, 2014 in Books with tags Nanododo, Writing Advice

This week’s NaNoDodo tips will be five tips from yours truly, @Hodder_Editor. Let’s get started! There are ten billion words of advice out there about how to write a book. I’ve boiled them all down into five bite-sized tidbits, the things I think are absolutely the most important for fiction writers to heed.

First and foremost: read. Read everything. Read widely, read comprehensively, read obsessively. And then think about what you’ve read.

Read in your genre, so you know what people are writing now, what they were writing ten years ago, and what they were writing fifty years ago. You don’t want to reinvent the wheel with your novel, so educate yourself.

Read outside your genre. Read legal thrillers and noir classics and the Bible and the Iliyad and everything in-between. Read non-fiction: biography, history, popular science – anything that captures your interest. Your education needs to be as much about what everyone else is reading as what fans of your genre are reading. Also, different genres in fiction and topics in non-fiction will teach you invaluable lessons about plot, about pace, about style and about popularity.

(A corollary: don’t disdain anything. Read popular books like The Da Vinci Code and Fifty Shades of Gray and try to understand what makes them popular.)

Read more than just novels. Read what people are saying about the novels you’re reading. Read reviews. Read blogs. Read Twitter and Tumblr. You don’t necessarily have to crack open the critical theory (though feel free!). Just make sure you know how people are responding to books. TV Tropes is a great resource.

Most importantly: pay attention to your reading. Be aware of your responses to books and try to understand what you’re responding to and why. Are you reading a compulsive page-turner? What makes the book that for you? Is your book boring? Why? Do you think the prose is magical? Why? What’s the author doing? Is the character development great? Why?

This process, of reading and of self-examination, is fantastically important when it comestimve  to write your own book. You’ll have the tools for writing the kind of book you want to write already at your disposal, so you can just get on with the business of putting pen to page (so to speak).

We’ll turn to the physical process of writing tomorow. Until then… good luck!

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