Inside the Fiction Factory – Part 2

Reading

A regular piece of advice that crops up is, if you want to write, you have to read. You will have no argument from me on that. For me it’s been crucial in learning how to write. I can see what other authors have done and use their expertise to inform my own work. Don’t me disheartened when reading something you feel is a classic and comparing it to your own work. There will always be books you consider so good you feel you could never achieve a fraction of what they put down on the page. That’s fine. Don’t stress about it. You can see where the bar is, keep going and see what you can write today. The authors of those books will have felt exactly the same as you do, and more than likely still do. That’s the writing life for you. There will always be self-doubt while making comparisons. Accept it. Books are the signposts on your journey, so learn from them.

I think I read widely and tend to let books choose me. Books will appear, either an advert on-line, chance remark from a friend, a news article or overheard conversation. I take recommendations from others, and also buy on impulse. There are books I feel I need to read so I make time for those. Some say read widely in the genre you write in, which is a fair point and may work for you. I read within my genre, but also make a point of reading outside it. Like everyone, I need to balance my time between reading and writing so I juggle the time I have across a variety of books. Part of me feels I learn more from books I never expected to read.

To give some examples of the books I read, this year I picked up Anna Karerina by Leo Tolstoy which had been on my list for awhile. I followed that with a fantasy novel, The City of Lost Fortunes by Bryan Camp. I had received that as one of the books in a Box of Stories (I will blog about this later). This may not have been a book I would have chosen, but a great story. I moved on to a contemporary crime novel Dead Woman Walking by Sharon Bolton which popped up on BookBub, and then I read Death in Venice by Thomas Mann. I could go on, but hopefully you get an idea of the random nature of my reading. I like to travel across the years, and learn from a variety of authors and styles. I also love reading, and never feel disappointed. Of course there are books I read which may not hold my attention as I would hope, but I stick with them and usually learn something by the time I finish.

I write about technology, some of it current, some of it my impression of how it will develop in future. This means I read daily on numerous aspects of computing, cybercrime and technology in general, and devour news at a fair rate. You never know where the next idea for a story will come from, so I’m always on the lookout, processing everything from the writer’s point of view, working through whether some news article or snippet of research could result in a new book.

I think like a writer, or at least how I imagine a writer should think. It works for me.


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