Writer Wednesday – Read!

Cornus kousa

Cornus kousa fruit at Bodnant Gardens - Image Wikimedia Commons by Velela

It seems obvious, but for many it is not as common as it should be. The most likely problem is a reading rut, which leads to predictable and dull writing. So you read a book a week? What sort of books do you like to write? Are all of the books you read of that variety?

While being well read in your favored genre is important, remember also to read outside of your comfort zones. Any book has the potential to offer you something. Sometimes it is an interesting plot twist. Sometimes it is a clear example of what not to do if you want to keep a reader interested. Other times it is simple facts you might not have been aware of.

Let’s say you want to write the next great zombie novel about the end of the world. Your protagonist is safe behind a fence in some urban yard, but the house is devoid of food and he is growing weak from all of the running and fighting without anything to eat. If you have been reading nothing but zombie apocalypse novels, the vast majority seem to rely heavily on the canned goods option as the fallback. Obviously that is a no-go here. What if instead you happened to read a book that didn’t really interest you about popular ornamental trees instead?

You might just run across a note on the dogwood variety that has a tasty edible fruit (Cournus kousa). So instead of just going hungry, your hero decides to take a risk and eat the pretty little fruits growing in the yard. Turns out not only is it edible, but good. Gathering up a bag full, he is now ready to move on rather than having to dig around in house after house for cans and a can opener and even better, he doesn’t have to carry all of that heavy and noisy metal.

That is a random example, but everything you read can offer insights. National Geographic has given me inspiration for a breed of dragons. New York Times has shown the fodder for surreal storylines. Random novels read only on a whim have led me to find amazing authors and learn valuable new techniques.


Don’t limit yourself by genre or source. Read for the sake of reading and take whatever may come from it.

What are your thoughts?

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