That’s right people, we are back with guest posting! More awesome people have agreed to share their thoughts and ideas on this blog. This week’s guest poster is the wonderful Justine Alley Dowsett from Mirror World Publishing. Enjoy.
Why Writers Should Also Be Readers
It’s not a coincidence that most people who like to write are also big readers.
Besides providing entertainment and that window into lives other than our own, there’s a lot that reading can teach us about how to be better writers.
To do this though, we have to learn to read critically even as we read for enjoyment. Here are a few techniques you can use when reading to improve your writing.
This one may be obvious. The more you read, the more words you are exposed to in the correct context and so the more your vocabulary grows. Having a larger vocabulary gives you more words to draw on when you go to write.
Now as you read, you tend to pick up some of these words subconsciously, but why not take this opportunity to learn them consciously?
As you’re reading, if you come across a word you don’t know, or don’t know as well, see if you can gather the meaning from the context and if not, take the second it takes to look it up and commit it to memory. Heck, you could even make a list of these words for future use.
I learned this one in a creative writing course at University. We were asked to picture an apple, hold it in our minds, and then afterwards describe it in detail.
This is one example of how visualization can help your writing, but even more powerful than doing this exercise is to do it every time you read.
As you read, let the words form pictures in your mind. Try seeing the story like it’s a movie or a dream. Some people do this naturally, but if you don’t, it is a skill worth practising. The more easily you can visualize something, the easier it will be to describe it later when you are writing.
If you want to be a romance writer, read a lot of romance novels. The same goes for any other genre of writing.
Once you’ve read enough romance novels, or if you’re reading them critically enough, a pattern will begin to emerge. This pattern will teach you what people expect from the genre you want to write in.
Once you know this, you will know how to write in the pattern of the genre and how to break the pattern in new and exciting ways.
Foreshadowing and symbolism
Another skill you can learn from reading a lot, or reading critically, is how to effectively foreshadow events in your own writing. If you pay attention, you can also pick up on common symbols used by storytellers.
For example, crossing water tends to indicate a transition of some kind and wearing white can indicate purity or sacrifice. Symbolism can be used to convey themes, for foreshadowing events, or just to clue the savvy reader into what you are trying to accomplish.
Pay attention while you’re reading, especially if you are reading something for the second time to see places where the author leaves you hints for what’s to come. If you can learn to spot these, you’ll be in a better position to know where to put them in your own writing.
How the experts do it
Perhaps the most beneficial thing a writer can learn from reading is how the experts do it. Reading critically or not, you can already tell which books you like and which you don’t.
Reading critically will tell you why you like them and why you don’t. Then, you can use good books as examples of how to do things well and the rest as examples of what not to do.
Reading a lot of books and paying attention to what works and what doesn’t will go a long way towards helping you realize what works and what doesn’t in your own writing. And this is priceless to any writer.
Do you have any tips or tricks to share? Do you read critically, or just for enjoyment? Please feel free to add your thoughts in the comments section below! Thanks for reading.
Unintended by Justine Alley Dowsett and Murandy Damodred
Clan chief’s daughter, Mackenzie en Shareed, arrives in the southern Kingdom of Ismera to uphold a treaty by marrying the Crown Prince of Ismer. On her arrival, she meets a handsome man atop a white horse.
Desiring nothing more than for her marriage to be by her own customs and traditions, she marries him on the spot only to find out that he isn’t the Prince she’s been promised to.
Everything happens for a reason in this Shakespearian-style romantic comedy about good intentions and their unintentional consequences.
Adult, Fantasy, Romance, 440 pages
From obtaining a BA in Drama at the University of Windsor to becoming an entrepreneur in video game production and later, publishing, Justine Alley Dowsett’s unswerving ambition has always led her to pursue her dreams.
Today she lives in Windsor, Ontario and is still writing and publishing fiction novels. When not focusing on growing her business, she enjoys role-playing with friends and developing new ideas to write about.
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Big thanks to Justine for sharing her thoughts. Do make sure you check out her links and leave any comments if you have questions for Justine.
I will actually be back this Friday with my own blog post. I know it’s been a while and I thank you all for your patience. Should be back to regular posting now.
Happy writing people