Earlier this week, as I scrolled through my email, I came across my girl Lisa’s Guest Blog Post on the importance of having a good story line when writing erotica.First, I invite you to check out Lisa’s post (especially if you’re an Erotica writer) to get a better understanding of what I’m about to say. Lisa drew me in and nailed it. I’ll definitely be reading up on her upcoming series. Check her post out here.
One of the reasons I don’t review Erotica (I do read it occasionally, I just don’t review it) is because I’ve had bad experiences with Indie Author writers of this genre and not just Erotica but also Urban Fiction. Many of the writers who are emerging now showcase a variety of books that have bomb book covers and invite you in to read. Sometimes I just sit back and scroll through Google looking at book covers! They’re really nice. In fact, that’s what happened to me. This one cover was so enticing I just had to see what the book was about. Then, I got into the book and I’ve never been able to finish it. Needless to say, I was turned all the way off.
When I finished reading Lisa’s post a thought struck me, “They’re not reading.” It occurred to me that there are many people who write strictly from their own experiences and backgrounds, which is great no doubt, but is it enough? Are the stories really up to par? Or is it just that relatable aspect that we love and support? From a genuine writing perspective, are these books well written? Many of them are. But many of them are not.
I love how many of these books capture the gritty realness, but I’d be remised if I didn’t mention that I also see that something is missing. That missing link is reading. Many new writers, especially of Urban Fiction though not strictly UF, do not read books to write books. In addition, many of us are just not broadening our reading shelves. Many writers who write these books only read these kinds of books. This isn’t a bad thing but for writers, is this enough? The truth is no, it’s not. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy UF and applaud Urban Fiction’s impact on the increased reading of teens. Because of Street Lit, for instance, black teens are coming into libraries, checking out books, and increasing the number of books read. However, for Indie Authors venturing into this genre reading books that are actually not well written, this provides for those readers no nurturing of the skill.
If you plan to write a book, it’s not enough just to read the kinds of books that you love. It occurred to me, after reading Lisa’s post, that there’s a host of young writers writing books who have never been readers and never plan to.
Note: There is NO such thing as being a writer who does not like to read. This is not judgement. This is fact. It is the same as saying that you like to teach elementary school but you don’t like children. How can you ever learn to write if you don’t read? Anyone can write and I encourage many young writers to do just that. However, to craft, a story of your own that is truly engaging will require you to study how other writers have done it. This can only be done by reading other writers.
Reading helps writers with:
Story Structure and Dialogue Tags
I didn’t learn about how to structure a basic story from a classroom, I learned it from a book. Writer’s don’t have to have a Masters in English or a Bachelors in Creative Writing. All we have to do is read more. It was books that taught me about dialogue tags before I knew what they were (not college). Sure, I didn’t know what it was called, but I did know how they were to be written.
“Writing in The Guardian, Dan Hurley pointed to recent studies confirming that the relationship between reading and intelligence is so close that it could be symbiotic. Listing out three types of intelligence most recognized by psychologists, Hurley stated that people who read overall performed better on all fronts.”
Why do you think brothers come home from Prison geniuses? All they did was read.
Speaking of story structure, a lot happens to a reader subconsciously that is then spilled into his / her writing. When a person reads, he or she is processing everything about that book to include the plot. You can learn how to write a good plot even if you haven’t been in school. Even if you knew nothing about the grammatical rules and even if you don’t understand it. Read more and you will learn from your teachers in ink: Authors.
Study the language of the book and the style of the writer. Look at the vocabulary, how does the writer use the words? As a writer words are your everything anyway so you want to know how to use them. Don’t just read books to hurry up and finish them just so that you can say that you read it. Take your time with it so you can study it. Pay attention to what the author did with the words, how they made you feel, the symbolism, and multiple meanings. I have books I’ve been reading for a while now because I am studying them. I need to take my time and process how this bestselling author delivers.
I hear a lot about inspiration in the blogosphere but did you know that reading is the secret weapon of inspiration? Yes! Whenever you get writer’s block or can’t decide what to do next, read. It’ll jump start the creative juices. There is a way this works, though: As you read and come up with ideas, write them down! Remember, don’t just read, study what you read. Reading is the most powerful form of research for a writer.