When you go into a book store/library, what do you find yourself browsing for in a book? Is it a spicy romance novel that has your heart racing? Or a thrilling horror that has you screaming when your kids startle you… by merely going to the bathroom in the middle of the night? How about a travel through time to see the world how it used to be? Maybe you prefer an exciting trip into a world not quite like our own? There are so many varieties out there that it is mind boggling.
It is human nature to find something you know and like then to stick to it.
Growing up I tended to read more of the horror genre only sneaking my mom’s romance novels when I was really desperate. Then as I became a grown up, I read whatever book was passed to me from my mom and grandmother ; still mostly romances – Nora Roberts, Barbara Taylor Bradford, Danielle Steel, etc.
Somewhere along the way, the three of us branched out a bit further, now my grandmother tends to pick up suspense and mystery novels; my mom is more of a thriller junkie. Me, I still read whatever is usually passed on or referred to me.
As a writer you have to read a lot. They say read what you write and write what you read. Research your genre and see what works and what doesn’t.
How does that work if what you write isn’t necessarily what you like to read?
When I read a book, I want my characters to have a happy ending. I know, I know, how boring. Life doesn’t always have that happy ending and neither does a book. I don’t care, I like what I like and good should over come evil, the bad guy should get his butt kicked by the end of the story, and the couple that is madly in love should have their happily ever after. Oh how it kills me when a romance story kills off one of the main characters at the end.
However, when I write, I don’t follow my own reading rules. This makes things a little difficult when trying to juggle reading for pleasure and reading to better your writing.
When I started writing the first draft of my current novel, I had no clue where I was going with it. In fact, it had started out as a short story to let off some steam. Once I had finished the short story, I realized that it wasn’t completed. There were other voices that needed to be heard, other point of views that needed writing. After all was said and done, I approached Amanda with my first draft and asked her just how crazy was I in doing what I did.
Her response… Eek. You did what? With how many different…
Like I said, what I have been writing is not something I generally like reading.
Being able to write something that wasn’t overwhelming or confusing and had people wanting to read it meant a lot of research in finding what worked and what didn’t. I was left with the possibilities of having to change so much that I considered giving up many different times but I kept going, expanding my story and plotlines.
Then it came time to start reading what I was writing… and I wasn’t looking forward to it. Again I contemplated just leaving it as a first draft and cutting my losses.
Research is fun for me… as long as it is not a requirement. Then it becomes tedious. So not only was I faced with having to read a bunch of books that I was sure I would dislike, I also had the chore of figuring out what books would benefit me the most. Needle in a haystack. (Ha! more like a book in a library.)
As I mentioned earlier, most of the books I read come as recommendations from friends, family or other bloggers. I have been extremely lucky these past months, almost every single book that has been suggested to me has somehow helped me with my current book.
Books ranging from a YA ghost story, a dystopian collapse of mankind that spanned over 70 years in time, a YA written in present tense, a historical two-person view that absolutely broke my heart, and a multitude of books all written by the same author who has many titles under their belt exploring multiple POV’s.
As far as research reading goes, I hit the jackpot. And it was because I did not stick to one specific type/style of book. I had to branch out and jump around from shelf to shelf, picking my way through what works and what didn’t work for me. My job isn’t done, I am still reading and with each new book, I am better equipped with the knowledge that I need to do the best that I can do.
If I had stuck to only one particular genre, I’d have probably given up on my novel by now.
Do you have a favorite genre? And does it help your writing? Let me know in the comments.