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Friday, November 8, 2013

Learning to Write by Reading

I've been doing a lot of events recently and one of the questions people are always asking me is . . .

What advice do you give to people who want to become writers?

One of the answers I always give is . . .

Read as much as you can, as many different styles and genres as you can get your hands on.

Don't just read what you think you like. If you love paranormal, you can't just read paranormal. You must also read contemporary, science fiction, romance, historical fiction, biographies, autobiographies and the dozen other genres I'm missing. And don't just read books. Read newspapers, magazines, blogs . . . everything and anything. Doing this will open your mind to new styles of writing and will show you that there are so many different voices out there. You don't have to emulate another author or write a specific way to write something amazing and even publishable. You just have to stay true to yourself, work on your voice and your craft and you'll find an audience.

Now, I've been on panels recently with authors who have said they don't read a lot of YA because when they read a book it informs their writing and they don't want other people's styles getting into their heads. I get that. It happens to me, too. But I LOVE it. I love when I learn something new from a book I'm reading or can pick up on a cool way to spin a metaphor or get inspired to create a more unique voice for a character. It's basically my favorite thing. I don't think my voice has changed drastically over the years, but if it has, it has changed for the better and it has changed because I KEEP ON LEARNING. I keep on learning by reading authors as varied as E. Lockhart and Alexandra Bracken, Andy Marino and Cristin Terrill, Maggie Stiefvater and Stephanie Kate Strohm. I learn something new every time I read something new and my first book was published FIFTEEN YEARS AGO. Which is why my first piece of advice to aspiring writers will always remain the same.