Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Reading in your genre

I write contemporary romantic fiction and I love reading it. When the book is excellent, it's quite depressing, but when it's not so excellent, it will boost my self-confidence.

I like thrillers and mysteries too, but I find it helps to read in the same genre as I'm writing to get in the mood. I noticed that my sentences became blunter and shorter when I was reading thrillers so my pace speeded up when the scene didn't require it.

I know lots of experienced writers prefer to read in another genre to avoid being influenced by what they're reading. They're naturally worried that the contents might implant surreptitiously in their mind and they'll accidentally pour it out on their manuscript. This worries me of course, but I think this could happen with any genre you read or even watch. An idea, character or scene might sneak in from a murder mystery too and transform somehow into a love scene in your work in progress.

Maybe I'm relying too much on my memory, and I think I will remember what I've read. But I can't imagine not reading in the genre I love and I've got so much to learn from the people that master this genre, I feel it will only help me improve. However, I will go to extremes if I think something might have any similarities with what I've read and sometimes there is not really any resemblance at all, only something that triggered a memory of that book, even something meaningless, like the colour of a wall.

What do you read when you're writing?


  1. Everything! I read all genres (except horror). When I'm writing, I'm so involved in my story that I don't give whatever book I'm reading a thought. So I have no problem reading in the same genre I'm writing. I know of some people who don't read at all the entire time they're writing a novel. I don't know how they do it. I have to read every day just as much as I have to write every day!

  2. I read across genres. I don't think you have to worry about being influenced by your readings. After all, if the colour of a wall stirs your imagination, what you do with it will be different from what has been done.

    And you shouldn't be depressed if the book you're reading is excellent.

    You should be inspired.:D

  3. I remember discussing this with you earlier, Sarah. I admire that you are so disciplined not to inadvertently copy. I know I would, no matter how hard I tried. Some writers won't even read fiction while they are writing a book. So, kudos kid!

  4. I used to love reading who-dun-its with their teasing red herrings and multiple plot twists, until I started writing. I now get frustrated by weak points in the plots or characters, weaknesses that I would never have noticed before I learnt about writing. If I'm in the middle of writing a ms I have trouble getting absorbed in a book. In other words, writing has ruined my joy of reading but I can't ever stop doing it.

  5. I always read when I'm writing. I agree with the idea of inspiration ... I listen to classical music to inspire me to practice the piano and I think it's the same way of thinking. Musicians interpret the exact same piece of music in completely different ways, so I don't think reading would inspire me to copy. At least, I hope not!

    I also couldn't imagine a day without reading. It would be a pretty rubbish day.

  6. The only genres I've never been that interested in (with a couple exceptions) are fantasy and scifi, even though the book I'm writing right now has fantastical elements. But because I read a lot more, I guess you could say, realistic fiction, it shows in my work. But I just really like variety in what I read.

    I know what you mean about story elements that shouldn't be in your story sneaking in. I'm trying to revise some of those out right now... :)

  7. I write romance but also adore reading old stuff like MarkmTwain, Wodehouse and Evelyn Waugh, so when I'm writing a novel I try to stick to modern fiction so that it is clear and contemporary.

    I am also a bit of a music journalist and I write a lotof what I call 'personality prices' for the underground press (zines) and the style for that side of my writing life is VERY different to my more mainstream attempts!


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