Tip #6 Read outside of your genre
Aspiring authors, take some time to read, then read something you wouldn’t ordinarily consider.
There’s a whole world out there. Why are you inside your writer’s corner with tunnel vision? Open the door. Go outside. Expand your horizons and see what the rest of the world is writing about.
While Too Many Lies was in editing, I took some time off to read a few books. I picked up two young adult novels while perusing the library shelves with my children one day, and one mainstream fiction book that was also a popular movie.
I learned quite a bit from this exercise.
I chose the first young adult book because it was written in first person, and I’m currently writing a book from the perspective of Stanley Thompson, the antagonist in Too Many Lies. I liked the voice of the main character, who from the beginning let the reader know she was a pathological liar.
The book kept my attention until I realized that not only was she morally bankrupt, which is okay, but she did some things I just didn’t want to read about in a YA novel. However, it kept my attention long enough for me to learn the author’s style, voice, how she got inside the character’s head, as well as how she lead the reader through the character’s personal journey/conquest—all in first person. So, although I didn’t like the book, I did learn something from this unfamiliar genre.
The second book I read was another young adult book, but with a paranormal element. While paranormal is not what I currently write, I do have several pages of one in my pipeline. Remember my first post, Tip #1 Study Your Genre? How could I be successful at telling my paranormal story if I didn’t know anything about the elements of a paranormal story?
A book club selection was my third “out-of-genre” book. I was not happy about reading this one at all. It was on a subject I didn’t care to watch on TV, much less spend hours reading about. However, as I read, I was anxious to see where the book was going and pressed on to the end. The book was also a movie and the book club went to see it. It helped that I’d read the book, had already formed my opinion of the characters and the story before seeing it, because as you know, a lot is cut out for the screen adaptation. It was enlightening to read the book, despite my protests, all the way to the end.
I said all of that to say this, don’t get stuck in a rut where you read only chick lit, urban, western, crime, thriller, Christian or whatever genre you write. Have an open mind. You might learn something.
Get caught reading something outside of your genre. You might walk away with a new idea.