Do you want to be a better writer?
Do you want to improve at your craft, grow your vocabulary, write convincing dialogue and innately understand what makes a plot compelling?
Do you want to comprehend the pros and cons of different POV’s, watch them used expertly and learn how to apply them to your own work?
Do you want to grasp the various styles of verbiage, the ebbs and flows of prose and the staccato of short statements intermingled amongst longer ones?
If you said yes to any (or hopefully all) of these questions, then there’s an amazingly simple solution to making it happen.
PUT DOWN THE TELEVISION REMOTE AND PICK UP A BOOK.
Our favorite fiction master, Stephen King, recommends in these 20 tips—inspired or pulled from his manual, “On Writing”—that we read constantly and put down the TV remote. King is quoted in this Barnes & Noble blog post by Lauren Passell as saying: “TV—while working out or anywhere else—really is about the last thing an aspiring writer needs … You must be prepared to do some serious turning inward toward the life of the imagination, and that means, I’m afraid, that Geraldo, Keith Olbermann, and Jay Leno must go. Reading takes time, and the glass teat takes too much of it.”
Why is reading so beneficial in honing your writing skills?
Blogger and author Jeff Goins discusses how reading not only introduces you to different styles of writing to try but actually inspires you to write. Ever read something so wonderfully descriptive that you found yourself itching to create something similar, but with your own spin? That’s one reason why reading is essential. As mentioned in this article by Mike Hanskiin The Huffington Post, it’s impossible to think that a talented musician intent on growing as an artist wouldn’t spend a bulk of their time listening to others’ music. How else does one learn what has worked in the past—or what hasn’t?
Reading is also a great way to analyze what not to do; how to avoid wooden, overwrought dialogue, character clichés, or subplots that drag. In this post on Life Hacker that details tips on how to more effectively read, Belle Beth Cooper refers to the popular procedure of “taking breaks to make notes on what you’ve read.” Research has proven that we retain information up to 50 percent better when writing a summary on it than simply by reading the content over and over. Take time as you read to jot down favorite words, phrases, descriptions or dialogue—you’ll retain it much more effectively for future reference.
Reading allows the writer to learn what cannot be taught in a classroom: not the rules, but the art. Spelling, grammar, punctuation, a wider vocabulary—yes, these can be memorized and followed, but they don’t impart that intangible quality that shows us how to write a compelling story, with characters we care about and world-building that feels real.
Want to learn how to get more out of your reading? Check out our tips on “How to Read to Become a Better Writer.”
Once the writing is done, it’s time for editing! Midnight Publishing offers all types of editing, ghostwriting and publishing assistance as you pursue your publishing career, in whatever stage you’re at. Contact us today for a free sample and to discuss how we can help you!