Get Out of Your Genre – And Read!

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Read any good books lately? I just finished a great novel, One Last Thing Before I Go by Jonathan Tropper. It’s about a former one-hit-wonder rock-star, currently middle aged divorced guy, who finds out he has to have heart surgery or he will die. He opts out of the surgery feeling his life sucks so much he would be better off not hanging around. This book is so funny, insightful, and full of rich, detailed characters, it had me laughing out loud and reading quotes to my husband. It was such a page-turner, I finished it in two days.

Typically, I prefer Memoirs. Given the option, I naturally gravitate toward those sad, inspiring, beautifully written first-person stories. It takes a little effort, but I purposely mixed up my genres to push my boundaries. Why?

Because it’s fun, and more importantly, reading a range of genres makes us better writers. We learn the art of storytelling by listening to other people’s stories, and the larger variety of stories we read, the more we have to draw upon. In many ways our writing is a compilation of everything we’ve ever read. It’s all mixed up together to make our own unique voice.

A writer who doesn’t read as much as they can, is like a filmmaker who doesn’t watch old films or a musician who only listens to one station on the radio. So if you want to write, you need to make reading – all sorts of reading – a priority.

  • Bring a book outside of your comfort zone with you when go to appointments, get in the car, sit on a plane.
  • The next time you go online for pleasure, read a good blog or news site rather than type updates on Facebook or look at pictures of your friend’s cousin’s puppy.
  • Subscribe to a variety of magazines, visit different sections of the library, and peruse your friends’ bookshelves for inspiration.

“Read, read, read. Read everything—trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it.” – William Faulkner

Reading others’ work will inspire you. I can’t tell you how many writers I know came up with a brilliant plot twist or perfect sentence by reading and simply getting inspired someone else’s engaging storytelling. A well-read writer will have a better handle on grammar, structure, the art of choosing your words and building suspense.

So what is your favorite genre? Why should we all check it out?

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