Reading, Writing and . . .

No. Not arithmetic.

My reading list doesn’t look like it’s moving that quickly but it is.  I’m in the middle of On Writing as well as part way thru one item not on my list.  I’m lucky enough to be eyeballing an unpublished ms co-written by a pair of best selling authors whom I admire.  Unlike my usual reads it’s not fantasy or urban fantasy, but a mainstream novel full of delightful characters and a good story line written with wit and humor.  I won’t give any of it away but if it were to be made into a movie one day I’m thinking something along the lines of  The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain but with a much shorter title.

Where am I going with this, you ask?  It seems to be the way of things lately that I keep hitting parts of On Writing which coincide with something going on in my writing life.  My beta reader tells me I overuse adverbs, Stephen King proclaims, “The adverb is not your friend.”

I’m attempting to clean, re-organize, and re-claim my office space as well as carve out regular time in my schedule to devote to writing.  Stephen King talks about having a space to write and sticking to a daily schedule.

And now, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things ab0ve all others:  read a lot and write a lot.”  But don’t stick to reading books in the genre in which you prefer to write.  Read anything and everything.  Why?  Certainly not to pick the books apart with a critical eye, looking for abuse of grammar, dialogue and overuse of adverbs.  No.  Read for relaxation and entertainment because, by osmosis, several things will begin to happen.  You will notice bad writing more quickly and recognize it when it creeps into your own pieces.  Bad writing will show you what not to do.  Good writing will show you what works.  Will introduce you to rhythm, pacing, plot, dialogue, and everything else that goes into making that book good.  And, if you read enough, you will begin to see what has been done to death, what is new and fresh, what works and what doesn’t.  All of which will help expand your writing toolbox.


5 responses

  1. It’s true. I cringe when I hear writers say they are too busy to read. It would be like a musician declaring he or she is too busy to listen to music.

    If a musician doesn’t love music, he or she shouldn’t be trying to make it.
    If a writer doesn’t love books, he or she shouldn’t be writing them.

    Great post, Kathi!

    October 30, 2011 at 9:10 am

  2. Really loved this post, Kathi, not only for the advice it offers, but also as added incentive to find On Writing for myself 😉

    On that note, I’m going to return to the book I am reading. Thanks for the post!

    October 30, 2011 at 10:16 am

  3. King’s “On Writing” is hard to beat, and I love the way he’s worked some autobiographical material into it.

    Would love to hear more about these favorite writers of yours, and of course, more about their new manuscript.

    October 30, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    • Hmmm…I think I’ll keep that ms a secret until they decide to publish it. 🙂

      October 30, 2011 at 4:10 pm

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