When I started on my writing journey, I struggled to have time to write and read. I love writing, but not reading affected my mental health. Like many of us, I felt genuine guilt if I was doing anything other than writing. That included reading. Then I read that you needed to analyse text to be a good writer. It was all the permission I needed to get back into reading. Over the years of writing, my reading tastes have changed. I also read many books differently. However, nothing has got in the way of the pure pleasure I feel when I pick up a book and read. My partner states she always knows when I am coming to the end of a good book, as I get grumpy. She has a point. Recently I have noticed that my reading styles have changed. I have become more analytical in everything I read. Here are my suggestions to help your reading improve your writing.
Character development is essential for all writers. It is your characters, that keep your readers, reading. I have several books that I have stopped reading halfway through because I didn’t care for the characters. If you don’t care for the characters why would you want to keep reading, to find out what happened to them? As writers, you have to develop likeable characters that people relate to. These characters should be likeable, but realistic. Unless you are writing a fairy tale I would steer away from Prince Charming. Flawed characters are better to attract readers. It makes them more likeable. There are several writers that I admire for their character development. These are writers that I will visit again and again. It is no coincidence that most of them come from a series. A series allows a writer to develop a character more. Some of the characters I am going to speak about have almost become old friends. The development of these characters can teach us as writers many lessons.
As a writer, I am always fascinated by the origins of stories. Where did the writer get the inspiration to write that particular tale? As a child I loved tales by Brothers Grimms, Hansel and Gretel being one of my favourites. Many of our favourite fairy tales have strange origins. Hansel and Gretel is certainly one of the more disturbing.
My earliest memory of reading was going to the library with my mum when I was a toddler to pick my books for the month. My mum is an avid reader and she encouraged our love of reading. The trip was always the same, an hour in the library picking out books, then a play in the park opposite, followed by a picnic. These are some of the most vivid and enjoyable memories I have of childhood. Little did I know at the time that this reading and analysing of text would help me as an author in later life. The book I have started writing this month is a young adult, dystopian. A large amount of my reading in adult life has been young adult, dystopian. Each of these books has taught me a different skill for my writing.
Why as a reader you should be supporting other writers. As a writer, you can share your wisdom through your writing tips and stories of success. As a reader though you hold all the power. Think about your favourite author. You buy their books, pre-order their new editions and recommend their books. You as the reader have the power to make or break an author. The easiest way to thank these authors for their amazing work is by leaving a positive review. How many of you do this for every read? This reader power is also true on Medium. The first change we saw on Medium was for reading time to be converted into payment. This system personally changed the reader in me. I stopped skim reading and started digesting the work of others.
For many years I have been obsessed with quotes. My commonplace book has quotes from a variety of sources. Life quotes are those that follow you throughout the ages. Whether it is the first sentence or beautiful prose, I write them down. There are, however, five life quotes that have given me strength. Mantra’s to live by.