Thursday, August 18, 2011

What's Your Reading Level? by DL Larson

I'm sure you've heard the saying, if you want to be a better writer, you must read, read, read! So, do you? Do you invest the time to read more than the daily newspaper or an occasional magazine? Carving time out of a busy day is not easy, but it is beneficial in honing your craft. Reading a variety of genres may be the most productive of all.

As a writer, I know it is difficult to read a story without critiquing it along the way. Editing, revising and chewing up words is what we do, what we thrive on and it is a teeny bit rewarding to rearrange and do a little cleaning in someone else's house, er book. We may even stumble upon one of our own thoughts that need revising. It's the risk we take each time we read a book. Perhaps that is the biggest challenge of all, comparing our story to the one we are reading. How does the cadence of our story stand up to the one already published? How is it different?

Another problem I became aware of is to not fall into the pit of reading only the same type of book I write. All too easily I could become a ghost writer. With little effort I could start writing just as the author I was reading. BEWARE the DANGER of that! Reading does not mean losing your own voice. Diversifying your reading does many things, mainly it opens your mind to other styles of writing while your creative side rests and/or absorbs new techniques. And it is always refreshing after a rest to dive back into your own WIP.

Finding time to read is difficult, but I value my reading time and force it into my day. In the evenings, I start out reading between commercials and soon discover my book is more interesting than what's on TV. I read when I eat breakfast, I try to read before bedtime. I read in the car, not while driving, but I know others who listen to audio while in route to work. I read when I'm stuck in my own plot! I need to step away for whatever reason and think about something else. Reading has always proven to be the balsam I needed before continuing with my writing.

In the last few weeks I've read several genres: 1) Heaven is for Real, by Todd Burpo; 2) Titan's Curse, by Rick Riordan; and 3) Code Talker, by Joseph Bruchac. I've enjoyed each for different reasons, the inspirational was - well, inspiring; the juvenille fiction was action packed, and Code Talker, a young Adult fiction, is chucked full of wonderful characters facing conflict during WWII. None were what I write: historical or sci-fi romance. And I feel I'm better for it. I've absorbed fresh ways of story-telling and I now have new ideas in my writing tool kit.

So how about you? What's your reading level? Are you reading enough? What are you reading this week? Share with us here at Acme Authors.

Til next time ~

DL Larson


SBJones said...

Honestly I haven't read a new book since I started working on my own in March. I finished that and am working on the second. A handful of times I have picked up a book, but I'm just not able to get into it while my mind is wound up in my own work.

Momentum I found is so important in writing, if I step away for even a few days, it takes me forever to get back into it.

Deb Larson said...

I understand completely. It's hard to step away from your work. I leave myself a few notes before leaving my WIP. I also speed read alot which helps with my job as a librarian and needing to have some idea about the books on the shelves.
Don't be afraid to make reading part of your writing regiment. Even 15-20 minutes a day will improve your skills.
Thanks for sharing ~

DL Larson

Morgan Mandel said...

I read usually at breakfast and lunch time,sometimes before going to sleep, also while going somewhere I know I'll have to wait.

Morgan Mandel

Anonymous said...

I gave up TV or to be honest it comitted hari-kari and I don't miss it. I read more. Currently a bio on Edith Piaf: sex [plenty] drugs [for fun of course] and chasons to get the feel of the street to the audience. Paris Noir in the '30s. Excellent. We can learn a lot from those times. The current hysteria concerning just about anything that is fun being derided is frightening. As the concept of responsible drinking: that in itself is an oxy moron.
And rereading Orwell's 1984. Very informative and convincing in that I think journalists are excellent writers. They don't waffle.

Deb Larson said...

We can learn so much from reading other works! Rereading classics is always worthwhile! thanks for sharing ~
DL Larson