“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” ~ Stephen King
Reading good writing can teach you about structure, dialogue, pacing, plot, using symbols & imagery to convey a point, you name it. It makes you ask questions like:
- How did the author get the dialogue to feel so authentic?
- What did he do on the page to make me feel so attached to the characters?
- What did he do with the pacing that I can’t put this book down?
- What word choices made the story feel alive?
- What did he do structurally that made this book so engaging?
Reading brilliant writers gives you something to strive for, a kind of if-they-can-do-it-so-can-I attitude. It also keeps you humble; there are always some stunning writers out there who are better than me. Plus, on the days when the writing’s tough, a beautifully written book can provide inspiration and motivation, at least for me.
Reading bad writing can teach you, too, if you ask yourself questions as you go along:
- Why does that dialogue sound stilted?
- Why is this chapter dragging?
- Why don’t I care about the characters?
- Why doesn’t the language flow?
- Why did I put the book down halfway through the first chapter and not care to pick it back up?
“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” ~Stephen King
All of us want to be great writers. All of us, well everyone I know personally, started out a bad writer. Reading is the way that you get better. That and a lot of writing, too.
Do you believe that to be a good writer you must read? Please feel free to share your thoughts & experiences in the comment box below.