How Does What You Read Compare to What You Write?

It’s often said that a good writer should be a good reader. Before I began taking my writing seriously, I read much more than I do now. I could easily say that I read about a book a day without a problem, but things have changed since then, obviously. I still make a habit out of reading every day, but nowhere near that extent.

Regardless, I already knew before I started writing that fantasy was what I would put my faith in. But that was just for writing. It wasn’t hard to decide that I loved fantasy and wanted to write a thousand thousand stories in the genre, but at that point, I actually had virtually zero experience. I’d only read half of the Legend of Drizzt and a large amount of crappy paranormal romance. How was I going to translate that into a full fledged epic fantasy?

Well, quite frankly, I couldn’t.

When I set out to write Taichiren’s Heart the first time, it was half epic fantasy, half ‘what do I want to do with my life’ romance. At that point it was really all I knew and I took it from all of those crappy paranormal stories. Since then, though, I’d like to say that I’ve really expanded my horizons. I’ve taken a look at real fantasy and have started reading it so I could apply what other’s have written and used in my own writing (though definitely not copying, I’d like to say I’m being as original as possible).

Since then I’ve finished The Dark Tower, started on Malazan Book of the Fallen, and opened up my mother’s enormous library of fantasy that I didn’t realize she had. I’ll be diving into that pretty quick, that is, after I read Mark Lawrence’s Broken Empire. From what I recall there’s some Robin Hobb, Tolkien, Brandon Sanderson, and a dozen other authors of fantasy series I think I’d love to read. Just writing this I’m dying to get started on another book… though I tell you, I’m going to remain as loyal as possible to one book at a time. Really, reading more than one at once is just hard work.

That’s not to say fantasy is all I’m going to read, though. Sure I believe we writers should be well read in the genre we’re writing in (and thus I’ve been working to do this myself), but I also believe that we should be well read in general. How can we say we’re writing to the best of our ability if we’ve never looked at Horror and Contemporary Fiction? How can we say we don’t want to write in a different genre if we’ve never opened a book claiming to be written in something we’ve sworn we’ll never touch? So for me, personally, while I’m currently focusing on the fantasy I have, that doesn’t mean it’s all I’m going to read. I’m going to take a look at everything and learn as much about all of the genres that I can.

How about you guys? Do you read in the genre that you write in, or do you read something else?

~Erynn

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2 thoughts on “How Does What You Read Compare to What You Write?

  1. I’ve always been into YA fantasy, which is probably why that’s mostly what I write now. But I agree that it’s important to expand your reading horizons. I’ve been trying really hard recently to break up my obsessive YA fantasy readings with books of various genres, and I’ve discovered some great treasures among them!

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    • Haha, I’m glad you agree. Even if you for the most part don’t like what you find, you’re always learning something new. Plus, as you said, there are some good books out there that we wouldn’t ever read if we didn’t try to read outside of our genre.

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