5 Reasons Writers Should Read.

Keep reading as you write.

As a tutor, I always remind my students of the importance of reading. Whether you are writing novels, blogs, scripts for film, tv radio, game or theatre as well as non-fiction even for work, you should be reading what everyone else is doing. So I’ve put together some writing tips, 5 reasons why reasons is important as a writer.

Reason One.

Book stores know what sell.

It’s give you an idea what is out there. The chances are if you by your book from a store, it is more likely to be from a publishing house. Meaning a team of experts have deemed that this book fitted in with current trends of what the reading public want. If you intend to sell you book, then this is a huge help. Not just in knowing what is fashionable, but where you book could fit in and with which publisher.

Reason Two

Reading helps you to develop you own style. Like when as a child you watched a parent or adult cook, you learn how to do the basics. As an adult in your own kitchen you add your own twist to the recipe. That’s exactly what reading as a writer does.

When you start out writing, you just write what comes into your head. No thought is out into what ingredients you need and the quantity, , you simply throw is all in!

The more you read you will pick up on nuances of dialogue, delve deeper into characters, notice the plot turns and twists and where they start to develop. It improves you grammar and language skills. Never a bad thing!

Each writer has their own Writer’s DNA, it comes from who you are and how you got there, making it pretty unique stuff!

That same DNA, effects our interpretation of books. This is what makes up your writing style, so keeping reading!

Reason Three

This one is my favourite, RESEARCH.

The Long Room,Trinity College Library

For any writer, you SHOULD be researching. It doesn’t matter what you are writing there should be an element of looking stuff up.

Let’s start with location. You decide to set your story in a place you have never been. So how do you it’s suitable for your story? How will the characters react to their environment? How will it help your story progress? Science dictions writers haven’t been to the moon, but they can read about temperatures and conditions, they can read science and technology journals to understand what we can currently achieve and what we hope to achieve, with a writers imagination you can take this further!

I love to read up on psychology, I find it a great way of developing intriguing characters with realistic flaws, such as the habits of a stalker.

Don’t let NOT researching limit what you write!

Reason Four

Expand your horizons.

Reading is one of the best tools for doing this. Whether you want to learn a new skill such as writing for film or learn about Restoration Theatre (my current expansion project), there is always an expert on the subject who has already written the book. Not sure where to start? Your local library can help or try a social media group will probably have lots of recommendations or you.

And finally,

Reason Five.

Question Time.

Reading a novel as a writer should make you want to ask questions.

Did you enjoy the story and why?

Where all the characters believable? Did you empathise with them and their situation?

Where all the loose ends tied up when the story ended?

How did the story make you feel? Were you eager to turn the next page?

Would you recommend this book to someone else and why?

I’m sure you can think of lots more questions, your readers will.

So start thinking like a reader when you write and keep asking questions of your own work.

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Fly me to the moon or Mordor.

Not Mordor, St Michael’s Mount Marazion. Cornwall.

Location. It’s not just a place, it’s a character.

As a child did you have that special place where you hid out in a thunder storm? Or a place you returned to at every opportunity for adventure?

I did. Back in my hometown there is a man-made lake, with a wooden bridge that takes you over from one to the other.

Southport Marine Lake and the Victorian Venetian bridge.

It wasn’t the bridge but what I called the islands. Back in the late 70’s/ early 80’s these where overgrown with bushes and shrubs, that had natural hollow dens inside them. Perfect for the young girl seeking an adventure with her trusty bearded collie.

I convinced myself there were mine, collecting the rare piece of litter that had the audacity to spoil the landscape, hiding from adults and families in the summer, like some lost runaway, with a book under my arm.

I don’t have my own private island (maybe one day!) but the importance of that location is till with me.

We were partners in crime. It held my secrets. It was a huge part of my life every opportunity I had.

When writing location in your stories you need to add the relevance to the main characters., what is it and why are we here.

Make your place feel real, dynamic thinks of the great fiction canon’s, from Wuthering Heights and the moody moors reflecting that of Heathcliffe. The moors set the tone throughout.

The landscape of Modor and the Shire are at odds with each other as they should be because each one involves a different part of the hero’s journey.

Your characters need to react to their location, inhale their surroundings, watch how it challenges them and sense when it’s safe and able to protect them. Location is personal.

Like with every part of your story, flip it! Make it unique!

Not only will your setting change over distance but the same one will change over time.

Has the place you grew up in remained the same? I know mine hasn’t, parts that were important to me have disappeared become shops and fast-food restaurants.

Southport sea bathing lake then.
Southport now.

Research an area, notice the changes and think how has this affected your character? What stories do they have to tell. Has it changed their opinions, their outlook?

Most importantly see the landscape through their eyes.

It doesn’t matter if your place is real or totally made-up. The attention to detail needs to be there. Take a page from Tolkien, and draw out a map for your setting. Add important features or prominent places.

For the August challenge Day Two, think of a place that holds a special meaning to you. Write it down in great detail. Now do the same with your story location, through the eyes of your character.

Whether it’s the moon or Mordor make it memorable.

For more tips on writing go to The Coffeehouse Writer.

Draft 4.0

Covet final draft

Well here it is and for anyone who read the last one, you will notice quite a few changes to layout, but also I hope conveys the character arc better.

I have also after some advice tried to offer instead of a standard straight forward look but inserted some of the scenes In form of interviews.

One of the major issues I had with my previous drafts was the length, and I am hoping that the method I have chosen here, still gets the same story across clearer, and shorter.

I have really enjoyed this once I thought outside the box I am used to, I used techniques I have learn on the course so far to question myself each step of the way and my office wall is covered in small index cards and post-its. This actually helped the visualising process.

I can sit back and feel like I have earned my glass of red tonight, now just for the critical essay.

 

And so it began…Week One.

Reflection…

Well it came badly time for me, week one started on the first day of half term, and a planned trip away camping so no wifi. But a quick glance at the lesson plan got me thinking about why I write, why I enjoy storytelling,

This began long before I was a parent, back when my parents had given up reading to me as I often read quicker than them. I wrote to fill in the time before the next book was out, to compliment the author’s story or add my own version of the back story.  I wrote to escape. The same has happened with reading and story telling, escapism. I tell story o my children to escape the potential nightmares, we take imaginary journeys to places  not visited , we are brave and overcome enemies and monsters. We are warriors, protectors, friends, traveller’s. Through stories we can live a thousand lives, and through each of those lifes give us the skills we need to live this one.

Sometimes they are heroes, sometimes the bad guys get away, occasionally there are morals and hidden messages, similarities and shared personalities, that help the listener to make a descison, a choice, lesson learned.

But story telling is also for enjoyment, what other reason is there for picking up a classic horror story, the only lessons to be learned from that are ‘don’t go in the cellar if you hear strange noises’ and ‘don’t wear high heels and a short skirt when you go camping and might have to run’.

The pure pleasure to be gained from a story rich enough that you lose yourself into it and react emotionally, is something totally personal, and can not be predicted until after the event. To be the person responsible for that effect is what it is all about. The satisfaction that your story had moved another human being into action of any kind has to be the highest praise available, and if i can only keep giving my kids peace that the boogie eyed bed monster is not strong enough to beat them, them im happy wih my efforts of narration.