I’m so excited to welcome D.Wells to the blog today talking about reading and writing more. It’s a fabulous post and I hope you enjoy it!
Read More and Write More!
Thank you to Katie for letting me share on the blog today. I spent a while thinking about what to write, before realising that with a brand new year ahead it makes sense to go back to the basics.
What is the first piece of advice we hear as an aspiring writer? Simply put… read more and write more.
Often (but not always) those of us who write, or want to write, read a lot anyway. But what is really happening when we do, and where can it lead with our own words? The advice above may seem a little generic, a little obvious, even vague, but let’s break down just how nuanced and layered it is.
A reader experiences enjoyment and fulfilment from what they read. A book is a whole new world. It can be inspiring, can draw out the senses and stimulate imagination, lead us to love or even hate the characters and their decisions. For many reading is an entertaining hobby, or perhaps even an essential past time. But what happens subconsciously that aids the wannabe writer?
Firstly, (and this list is probably endless, but let’s pick out a few key things) you engage with the author’s style. Whether they write pacey clipped sentences, or rich descriptive paragraphs, whether they include humour in their prose, or pull on the reader’s heartstrings, whether they lean more towards dialogue, or write pages of inner monologue – all these techniques and styles of writing embed into the reader’s brain. When reading, take note of these styles and when you sit to write, you’ll soon discover what your own individual style is.
If you’re like me you’ll enjoy reading a variety of genres, or you might have a favourite genre you frequently return to. By reading a lot you discover what you like to read and what you’d like to write. It isn’t necessarily one and the same. I started out writing romantic fiction as I was reading that genre at the time. But it didn’t quite suit me and I diverted to reading group fiction, focusing more on character-driven family dynamics and multigenerational plots. But the point is I started writing where I was comfortable reading, and as I gained experience, the writing developed where it needed to go.
By reading we work out which tropes we like and which we hate. What kind of characters we resonate with and who we’d like to write more about. Whether we enjoy those big twists and how we might attempt to write one ourselves. Reading tunes us in to other author’s voices and helps us discern what our own writing voice sounds like.
And then we need to put it into practise! One piece of advice is to think over a book you’ve just finished. What did you like, what did you not like about it? How would you write it differently? Would you include that twist at the end? Would you make that character more likeable? Would you change their story arc? Having a constructive critical eye can be a good thing when used to hone your own writing.
Consider rewriting an opening page or ending to an already published novel. Obviously you are not going to rewrite the whole thing and you will certainly not try and publish it as your own work (throwing in my disclaimer here – don’t do it!) This is purely a technique. It’ll get you thinking about punchy exciting openings, character description and development, a heart beating ending, and so on.
It may also lead to a spark of ideas. Jot them down quickly, flesh them out with as much detail and plotting as your individual writing style suits, and then write. See where it takes you.
Start back at the basics. Read more and write more. Figure out your style and voice. Adjust, amend and develop. And if possible – have fun with it. Here’s to a productive new year of reading and writing. A Happy 2022 to you all.
D. Wells has published two books, 6 Caledon Street and The Things We Regret. They are uplifting multigenerational character-driven novels, with an emphasis on family dynamics and overcoming adversity. Her third novel will be published in June 2022.
Thanks so much for joining us, D. Wells! See you all next time!
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