Want to start writing? The first thing anyone will tell you: Start reading. “But I don’t WANNA,” you scream and yell like my 2nd grader. It’s okay. I understand. Having taught all three of my kids how to read, I understand that reading is not always a picnic. As I tell my second grader, the more you do it, the better you get at it. I was lucky enough to take plenty of English courses in college. I always loved reading but in college it was tough to keep up with demand. Out of necessity I learned how to read at a fast pace while making mental notes of details, plot points, and meaning. After college courses I didn’t read nearly as much, finding mostly popular selections to read because everyone else was reading them. I had become a slacker.
Then I started writing. Every now and then I’d pick up a new book and a curious thing happened. My writing changed. An entire week with cult author Chuck Palahniuk’s work had me culling my prose in short, straight-to-the-point sentences and in similar cadence. I hadn’t realized the change until I had gone back to edit and saw the change from one page to the next. It was creepy. And if you’re familiar with Chuck’s work, it was even more freaky. But beyond the sentence structure of my writing, reading other books always has me thinking about my own writing in different ways. With each book I read I see more ways to present the information in my story. I see other ways to tell my story. I see the weaknesses in my writing and the strengths. In reading similar genres, I see what works and what doesn’t.
I’m rebuilding my routine with my writing/editing and this weekend I read two books that had been sitting on my shelves for a while. Reading on the weekends while working through the weeks seems like the perfect way to fit reading into my week. I’m usually off my computer during the weekends so that the kids can play their favorite games, watch their favorite videos, and look up the things they want to know more about. I have a few selections to pick from for next week that more closely resemble the genre my current work in progress, Echoes, just might fit into and I’ll learn more or I won’t. We’ll have to see.
This past weekend I ripped through “Paper Towns,” a young adult novel by John Green (picked up by Fox to potentially become a movie!) and a Christian fiction novel titled “Waking Lazarus” by TL Hines. Both were worthwhile reads for anyone, not just myself. Within their genres, they are very effective novels for their intended audiences. I would not consider myself the intended audience of either novel but each had their strengths, kept my attention and guessing about the ending until the very end.
From now on, if I read it I’ll let you know here. I might add more detailed reviews and discuss what I learned from the book to apply to my own work. I’m looking forward to next weekend and the reading ahead! Will it be a romance? A mystery? I haven’t decided yet! Let me know what you’ve been reading in the comments or tweet me @AprilDlicious on Twitter.