If you are writing a novel, then you need to read more. I am incalculably behind on my reading and I blame my high school for many reasons.
I went to a small, private school called Sweetwater Christian School—now defunct. Sadly, it went against the grain when it came to private school education. Private schools are commonly heralded for their students being ahead of the educational curve. Well, we were well behind it.
Many of my friends went through school reading the classics like Paradise Lost, 1984, To Kill a Mockingbird, Lord of the Flies, The Old Man and the Sea, and the list goes on and on and on. Perhaps the ghosts of great literature geniuses finally made their way through those halls and had the place shut down. Either way, I am eternally behind. I now read the classics, not just for enjoyment, but to finally read them.
I will complain no more. I’ll now continue with my purpose for this article.
TO BE A WRITER, BE A READER
If you are going to be a writer, then you must be a reader. I wish I had been a firm believer of this years ago, because it is unfortunate that I did not enjoy reading books as much as I should have.
But I have learned that reading more books opens your eyes to new ways of writing. Two writers who have made the most impact on me (as I have mentioned in a previous post) are Cormac McCarthy and Ernest Hemingway. Any writer, however, can make an impression.
Every writer can teach another writer how to write better just by giving them something to read.
READING CAN GIVE YOU STYLE
As young writers, we wonder at ways to tackle the new and recreate the old. What is a better way? Can we do this or that? Will things be accepted? Or will our styles and ideas end up like my old school? Shut down.
A writer in my writers group mentioned a story she has had on the back burner for a very long time. She knows a bit of Japanese and some of that culture is in her story. She said something in that language and then gave the interpretation. I asked if she planned to use the Japanese words in her book. She said she wasn't sure, but she had thought of it.
I mentioned to her that I had just finished reading The Kite Runner and that the author, Khaled Hosseini, continually provided words in Arabic in his English text. He then quickly followed, nearly undetectable, with the English translation. He did it so brilliantly it always seemed part of the conversation or thought within the story.
I learned ways to speed my writings along after reading McCarthy's The Road. I learned how to get to the point quicker from Hemingway's works. I learned the craft of descriptions from the not-nearly-talked-about-enough, yet wildly successful Christian author, Frank Peretti.
At the end of the day, every writer can teach another writer how to write better just by giving them something to read. So whatever you do, don't stop reading. And if you're not currently working on a project, then read even more.