Read Like a Writer: Part II

Read with Purpose

“Learn from others and make it your own.”

Continuing how to read like a writer, I want to go a bit into reading within and without your preferred genre.

Learning the craft well means reading broadly (cross-genre) and sometimes deeply (many titles classified in a single genre). I write horror and science fiction. I read deeply in those genres. However, I’ve also read broadly into other genres.

For example, I’ve read a few western novels which is not deep reading; meanwhile, I’ve never read romance. Therefore, I know I need to broaden my reading into romance to improve emotion and intimacy in my writing. I’ve chosen Diane Gabaldon’s Outlander, but as of right now, I have yet to read it. And, now that this is out there, I should do just that.

My previous post was how to read like a writer. The process I detailed in that post isn’t something I do every time I read a book. However, I do read every book with the intent of studying that author’s writing—style and voice specifically. I’ll also analyze emotion and intimacy in Outlander along with Gabaldon’s characterization.

Reading solely in your genre could be a detriment and could make your writing stale. You might fall into genre tropes. Reading outside your genre may make your writing unique or, in the very least, more developed, more mature.

I’ve created a genre graphic using a couple sources as reference: as well as public libraries and bookstores. This’ll come in handy for later posts I’ll be writing. This also comes in handy when I’m attempting to broaden my reading.

As I’ve said in the past and to revise that statement: Learn from others and make what you’ve learned your own. Or, maybe a simplified version of that would be stronger: Learn from others and make it your own.

In my next post, I’ll be delving into a comparison of literary and genre novels.

Author: Chuck Lang

Chuck Lang is a writer of science fiction and horror. Influenced by his years as a carpenter, four years serving in the US Navy, and his nearly two decades teaching literature, he holds an MFA in Writing (Fiction) from Lindenwood University. After completing his first manuscript, the supernatural horror novel DEAD GODS, in 2019, he has begun work on its two sequels, DEAD GODS: INHERITANCE and DEAD GODS: RESOLUTION. He is currently developing two additional projects, an urban fantasy horror novel and a military science fiction novel. He lives and writes near the frequently flooded Red River in Fargo, ND with his wife and two redhead sons.

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