Why You Need to Read to Write A Book

You must read to write… I have been talking to a woman that wants to write a book and wants me to be her alpha reader, but she isn’t a reader.  She actually said she doesn’t have to read because she watches a lot of TV.  From what I can tell, her book is about a princess (who might be magical) that decides to give up her tiara to become a space pirate.

Oh holy fuck!

There is a serious flaw with her desire to become a writer…. Writers have to READ books.  The first thing I learned in any of my writing classes (and I have been taking them on and off since I was 15) is that you write for yourself.  Meaning I don’t write actual romance novels in the style of Nora Roberts because I hate those kinds of romance novels.  I will read them if the romance is things like he sent her flowers.  Their fingers lingered when they accidentally brushed hands. They shared a lovely chaste kiss.  However, if he can taste what she had a week ago for breakfast while she was in Italy, I’m less likely to enjoy it or continue the story.

Yet, if the finger lingering and chaste kisses happen every page or every other page, I am still not going to stick with the book.  That’s why it appears that Zeke and Nadine have a loveless marriage at times.  For the purpose of clarification they don’t, I just have no desire to give a look into those intimate bits of their lives, because the books aren’t romance novels.  But I have deviated from the point.

If you don’t read, then you don’t know what you like and therefore you can’t make it enjoyable for others.  That is one of the fundamental principles of writing.  I had a class in college where the professor told us over and over again, if we didn’t read poetry, don’t write it.  That really stuck with me.  Because he had a point.  And it isn’t just poetry, it applies to genres and short stories and novels and everything else to do with writing.  I enjoy reading non-fiction history books, so I could probably write one.  I enjoy reading paranormal mysteries, hence my quickness with producing Natural Born Exorcist as well as the Strachan novels.

I got lucky.  I love a lot of genres.  This means it’s easier for me to tinker around and write in a lot of different genres or try to mash them up into a single multi-genre novel.  But that’s also why even though I have worked on my historical fiction piece for several years, I haven’t managed to get it written.  I don’t read a lot of historical fiction because I find it mildly annoying and it is basically a historical romance… Not reading either genre regularly makes it difficult for me to write them.

And I know I don’t read enough science fiction to take a stab at that genre either.  In my brain I’d want to write something as masterful as We.  It would end being more like  Jason X (is that the one with him in space?) meets a xenomorph.  And the world doesn’t need that book.  And I’d end up hating it, like I do most of my novels.

Okay, so why do I hate most of my own novels?  I write for myself, I should love all of them.  Right?  I suffer writer’s remorse.  If I go back and read my own novels after they have published, I want to make all sorts of changes, not always for the better.  Because I can rewrite a book to death.  At which point, I would be unhappy with the rewritten version.  And at the end of the day, I still want to work from home in my pajamas, so I have to keep at least most of my books published.

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