Guest blogger David Cleinman thinks writers need to be readers.
One reason it’s important for writers to read is that there tend to be standard conventions within each genre that readers expect to see. If they’re not there, or are twisted in strange ways, or even broken, it makes the writer look bad and loses future readers.
An even better reason is personal expansion. Great authors tend to evolve over time. They practice, tweak, learn how to use techniques. They learn the way words work to elicit responses from readers. All of this requires time, patience, research, and observation. Reading other authors gives us working examples of these concepts and allows us to expand our own arsenal of writing techniques.
A third reason is the fact that most of us began writing because we love literature and stories. We are captivated by characters, provoked by plots, wound up by words, and struck by stories. Reading takes us places we could only imagine, lets us be heroes, or villains, allows us escape, and keeps us enthralled in our own world, even when that world was created by another. We can see ourselves as Alexander the Great, Napoleon, Frodo Baggins, Muad’Dib, Joan of Arc, Harry, Hermione, or Ron, Viking raiders, Dragon Lords, King Arthur. Reading makes it easy to be someone else for a while.
This is the thrill of reading, and so it becomes the magic of writing. We get to take others on a journey with us, share worlds of our design, characters of our creation, ideas that move the heart, or shake up the universe. We become captains of a ship with unlimited possibilities. It can go anywhere, do anything, connect with anyone, accomplish the impossible, hold unlimited passengers, and break any speed barrier.
Our obligation as authors is to provide the best possible voyage for our travelers. We must give them the trip of a lifetime, and leave them wanting to be repeat passengers. This requires a unique approach, an engaging story, great characters with whom readers can identify, and a knowledge of story conventions which allows for a smooth and entertaining ride. Learning the techniques other authors use is the very best way to master these techniques and fully develop our own writing abilities. We can take classes, and that can help, but only reading gives us the practical insights we need to truly master our craft.
David Cleinman is an Indie author, blogger, and book reviewer. He has two published novels: Toys In The Attic and Principle Destiny, plus MindEater, a Vampire Short. For more information about David, please visit his writing blog or find him at Amazon.com.