August 01, 2009

How Reading Helps Your Writing

Stephen King’s age-old advice to success as a writer: “read a lot, write a lot,” it’s just that simple. Reading is essential to becoming a GOOD writer, and even a GREAT writer. The “write a lot” portion will be covered in later posts, but for now I will detail a LARGELY overlooked aspect of becoming a writer: reading helps your writing. Here's how:

Helps build a better command of the language: You can not help but get rubbed off on by good writing, it’s infectious. Bad writing can be even more beneficial because it leaves an imprinted emotion with each error you read. The subconscious memory of you reading the messed up passage and saying "Whaaat the eff" to yourself will be with you forever.

Gives you a feel for your genre: Writers stress this often. This mainly applies to those looking to get published, but also to anyone trying to make good fiction. Reading gives you a feel for what’s been done before, what has not. A feel for what works, and what sells, and what doesn't, which are valuable pieces of information.

Stirs the imagination: When you read, you imagine. You taste and feel and see the events unfolding out before you. You have to, or there would be no entertainment value in it. This is good exercise for your imaginative muscles, but more importantly it gets those muscles recharged and rejuvenates them. It's been proven that people who exercise more have more energy. And in just the same way those who exercise mentally have more mental and imaginative energy.

Serves as resource for ideas: Now I’m not telling you to steal places, names, characters, but that reading provides those excellent moments where you find yourself saying “That’s a GREAT idea, that really makes the story…you know, I could make my story much better if I incorporated it into it like this.” Example: A title of a book I saw read “Secrets of the Sunless Planet.” Now I don't plan on writing the same story, or even a similar story, but I do plan on incorporating a 'sunless planet' because hey, that’s just awesome. Nothing's new under the sun, just the way we look at those things. A microwave's still a microwave, a person with a speech impediment's still a person with a speech impediment, and just because Joe Schmoe uses a character with super strength doesn't mean anyone else can't make a new and wonderful story with a similar idea.

Creates a desire to write: This last reason is best expressed in a clip below featuring Stephen King. It really combines several reasons in a very profound and hilarious way. Best part is toward the end:

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]


Shruti Chandra Gupta said...

The last part of the clip got me giggling. And it is embarrasingly true.

Thanks for the link and the review. Appreciation helps. :)

aaronaskew said...

Haha, yeah me too, and my pleasure.

Tahlia said...

So true. Reading and writing always go together. The inspiration for me to finally start writing my YA fantasy novel came in the middle of reading another book.

If you're interested to see the result you can see ch 1 on the 'Lethal Inheritance' page at

Post a Comment