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What're your feelings about reading other books in same genre while you're writing

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by gia, Nov 15, 2016.

  1. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

    I love to take a break from the kinds of books I write...and read something else. Anything else. Right now, I'm reading MYTH Inc, In Action, one of my favorite books of all time. So funny. Told form the POV of one of Skeeve's bodyguards. I think I was fourteen and in love with this guy, when I first read it. So funny. I even took it to the waterpark with us a couple days ago, so I could read in the hot tub and while the kids were in the wave pool with Daddy. If you're struggling with getting your writing done, it can FEEL counterintuitive to spend time reading, but for me, I find that reading allows me to focus on something enjoyable, while my brain is still hammering away at the unidentifiable lump of metal that is my story stuck-ness. Reading can give your taxed brain a bit of recuperation, and it can help you get some ideas, however small. Maybe it's a bit of dialogue you think is funny. Or a method of showing how a character deals with a problem.

    I wouldn't be so concerned with copying things, because inspiration can come in many forms, and while I'd be concerned if I started writing my character with the dialogue habits of a magician's bodyguard, I've never had that happen. HA! I have, however, pulled scene structuring pointers from books I've loved, and by the time I was done writing my scene that I couldn't work out, I felt it was SO similar to the one I pulled inspiration from, but I know in my heart no one would ever see the similarities.

    So yes, read. Read whenever you need a break from writing, and maybe one day a week just for fun.
    gia likes this.
  2. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    Here's another one for you.
    "Begin by drawing and painting like the old masters. After that do as you see fit--you will always be respected."
    -- Salvador Dali

    I figure if it's good enough for the guy with the funny mustache, it's good enough for me.
    Also, he didn't just talk the talk. Have a look at his Basket of Bread, or Christ of Saint John of the Cross. I've seen the latter in person. It's something like six feet tall and four feet wide, and he painted it in 1951, long after he had become a surrealist.

    Anyway, wandered off there a bit. The point is, reading books that have been highly regarded for more than one generation is almost never a waste of time, even if you didn't like the book.
    gia likes this.
  3. That's what I mean by read stuff that's stood the test of time. It's been remembered for a reason.
    Demesnedenoir likes this.
  4. TheCatholicCrow

    TheCatholicCrow Inkling

    That's precisely why Tom Brokaw's Greatest Generation is on my reading list. I figure it made an impression on my parents' generation and is about their parents' (/grandparents') generation so it's a win-win. Generations all around. LOL.

    Seriously though, even if you don't like it (cough: Scarlet Letter :cough) it's still important to know what's come before you. For me, reading (widely) is an absolutely crucial part of the process and I can't imagine it any other way. If art is all about our influences, why not bust that door wide open and take in as much as you can? ...
  5. gia

    gia Scribe

    Thanks everyone for your great comments, advise, and support!
    Demesnedenoir likes this.
  6. ALB2012

    ALB2012 Maester

    I can't see that it hurts. I read a lot of other genres besides fantasy but I do still read it when I write. Any good book is worth it. After all inspiration comes from everywhere, and whilst your brain is having fun with true crime, mystery or romance your story brain is mulling over story.

    It's also useful to see how other writers write, and what works for you as a reader (or doesn't.) I don't know about anyone else but I can separate the reader me and the writer me.
    gia likes this.
  7. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

    I do it. I'm doing it right now, in fact. I'm normally reading five to seven books at any given time, usually two fiction and three to five research books, actively looking to replenish the creative well. Movies and TV - good TV - also work for this. Ingesting within our genre helps to keep us informed and inspired.
    gia likes this.
  8. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    I think it helps to read outside our chosen genre as well. Often, we write a mixture of fantasy + something else. I've found it helpful to read contemporary romance (even though it's not something I entirely enjoy) because I like to see how other authors approach the romance genre outside of fantasy. I also really like reading mystery and horror, elements that I like to play with in my own works. So reading a thriller or mystery or horror that's not set in a fantasy world can be a great way of honing in on how plots are structured in that genre, how the plot points are spun, how different authors approach telling these stories without fantasy elements there to distract us in a way. Just my take on it but I always breathe a sigh of relief when I come back to fantasy. :D
    gia and A. E. Lowan like this.
  9. Ronald T.

    Ronald T. Troubadour

    I have no problem with reading other authors in the same genre as mine while I write my own novels. I've always done it this way.

    When I read a passage by another author that I find deeply exciting or unexpected, it inspires me to work harder, so that I might give the same gift to a reader of my work. When another author plays with my emotions and cleverly makes me angry, or sad, or afraid, or makes me cry, I am driven to bring out these same emotions in my readers.

    So, as I said, it's not an problem for me...it's inspirational motivation.
    gia and Michael K. Eidson like this.
  10. neodoering

    neodoering Minstrel

    Hmm. Usually when I am writing a fantasy novel, I don't read other fantasy novels at the same time. Maybe short stories, but not other novels. Instead I read "classics," as several other people have suggested on this thread. Like, The Tale of Genji, or Dante's Inferno, or The Three Musketeers. Works that have been around a thousand years, or at least a few centuries, that are still considered powerful works of fiction today. I read fantasy novels when I'm doing research for the novel I want to write. I'm looking for recent works that exemplify the state of the industry right now, and give me an idea what's considered really good. I don't write to that, I write from my own interests, but I want to know what I'm up against.
    gia likes this.
  11. Kinzvlle

    Kinzvlle Acolyte

    I don`t see where reading things in your genre could be bad at all. You don`t want to copy anything directly or plagiarize but getting inspiration is fine, and not to uncommon to find it in otheer works that are out there, or trends in the genre at the time. Also learning from other`s work doesn`t mean just plot and setting ideas, other things like story structure or the way they go about world building and exposition without over doing it. I enjoyed the Wicther books (and games) and I read his short story collections which contain the shorts that came before the books. I read them with the purpose of enjoying them of course but also to see how he set up his world and backstory within the space of a short story without takeing to much word time away from the actual plot of the story itself. As said by others the classics are worth keeping a eye on to, not just to know what came before, or what impacted the genre but also to know what you may be judged against. I mean there`s people that can`t help but comparing any high fanstey to LOTR as a knee jerk.

    I should also say while I believe you should read in your genre don`t only read in your genre. If for some reason your genres the only genre you like, try branching out into other subgenres. It`s goood to read various things for various reasons. I saw this graphic a while, back and it took me a bit to find it again but it`s interesting.

    oenanthe likes this.
  12. oenanthe

    oenanthe Minstrel

    This doesn't make any sense to me at all, because all the fiction I read influences me

    that's...kind of the point.
  13. writeshiek33

    writeshiek33 Sage

    I read various books from fiction to non fiction. I tend to read most time same genre i want to write but i do read others as well for me it is absorbing the stuff .

    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
  14. Taniwha

    Taniwha Scribe

    I read alot... until I'm writing.
    I'm too easily led and prefer to let my imagination do it's own thing. Some of what comes out of it seems fresh and some seems familiar.
  15. Gurkhal

    Gurkhal Archmage

    I certainly read fantasy but I also try to read other stuff including certified quality literature so that I don't get to "bogged down" in one genre's conventions and clich├ęs mentally. And if I will steal, then I'll steal from the best. :)

    And to be honest, reading crap fantasy is kind of amusing as its easy to blow through it without much thought between reading heavier works, fantasy and non-fantasy.
  16. Ewolf20

    Ewolf20 Minstrel

    Despite writing in the fantasy genre, I don't like most of the fantasy genre due to repeating cliches and uninspired worldbuilding. Considering how kinda unique-ish some of things i write in our, it's hard to see how to execute an idea without getting lost and not knowing what to write next. However, if I do have an idea i wanna work on, I just read up on stuff that's consistent enough. If i'm doing a xenofiction story, i'm gonna read up on and research xenofiction. If i'm doing middle grade, I wanna read up on and research on middle grade. Sometimes I might try other genres I like and borrow apsects from them, i'll still largely read the genre i'm writing.
    Gurkhal likes this.
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