Chasing my crazy dream in the writing world…

Monday Musings: Reading To Be A Better Writer May 11, 2015



Just last week I put the finishing touches on my fourth manuscript. There’s nothing quite like writing “The End” on a story. It gives you a huge sense of accomplishment of setting a goal and then achieving that goal. It’s a joyful time, but it also makes me a tad nervous. Why? Because my thoughts then turn to the question of “What’s next?”


When I decided to write this last manuscript I knew I was going into unchartered territory. I’d always written Young Adult and felt comfortable in that place. But then a funny thing happened, little plot bunnies started popping up with ideas that were way beyond the realm of YA. At first, I tried to ignore the ideas. Work on plotting something new, but I kept coming back to one idea which was definitively New Adult.


Having never written in the category, I started doing my research. Talking to other writers. Asking questions about setting, voice, and what would be considered authentic stakes for my type of story.  While I could ask questions, I knew my answers honestly lied in one place: reading.


If I wanted to learn about voice or the topical plots that drew readers to New Adult, then I needed to read. So over the last year I’ve immersed myself into what I consider the “School of New Adult.” I’ve read close to 45 books in the category. With each one I’ve learned something new, and it’s taught me how to approach my story in a way I never thought possible. (Thank you Chanel Cleeton, Christina Lee, Megan Erickson, Sarina Bowen, Rebecca Yarros, Lia Riley, A.J. Pine, Stina Lindenblatt & Jennifer Blackwood for being my teachers!)


Many people say they can’t read in the category they’re writing, but I’m the opposite. Reading inspires me to be a better writer. When I come across a perfect sentence, it challenges me to dig deeper. Think more creatively. I’m not envious of those who are accomplished as writers. They inspire me to work harder at my craft.


This pattern continues for me today. As of this morning, I started plotting my next two books which will be companions to the manuscript I just finished. Again, I’m pushing myself. This time writing from the male POV. What’s my plan? How am I going to pull off something I’ve never done before? I’m going back to doing what I love: reading and learning.


What about you? Do you read extensively in the category or genre you write? What challenges you to be a better writer? Would love to hear about it in the comments.




6 Responses to “Monday Musings: Reading To Be A Better Writer”

  1. Your inspiring post reminds me of the Stephen King quote: “If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time (or tools) to write. Simple as that.”

    Lucky for me, I love reading! I read in the genre I write, MG. I also read adult, YA, poetry, classics, self help books, sports biographies… My reading list is long and varied and even though many books are not in my genre, I believe they help my writing. That’s because the core of any good book is always the same: it makes the reader feel connected to something.

  2. Of course! My favorite genre is fantasy, both adult and YA; and I’m currently revising a YA fantasy manuscript. I read the genre I write in not only because I enjoy it, but because I want to stay on top of what’s currently being published. (Well, stay on top of it as best as I can!) I’m not the kind of writer who likes to repeat what’s already been done, too, so I look at novels as learning tools now and see what I can take away from each one when I finish.

    Example: My YA fantasy manuscript features life-size Faeries as major characters. So now I’m catching up with other fantasy stories (both YA and adult) to see how fairies have been portrayed by other writers and understand how mine are similar or different to what’s already out there.

  3. schriscoe Says:

    Totally! When I started writing my very first MG ( I am a PB writer ) I thought I shouldn’t read in that genre as I wrote. But I soon realized I needed to be doing the exact opposite. I have learned so much about my own voice, by reading the voice of others. And just as I always read PBs while writing, I now read MGs while writing too!

    Congrats on finishing your fourth manuscript! That is an amazing accomplishment!

  4. i’m trying to read more in the genres of sci-fi and fantasy. for some reason i’ve always shied away from these areas in terms of reading, but i don’t mind writing in them. i also read a lot of classics. i figure there’s got to be a reason these books have been around forever. 🙂

    congrats on your completed ms!!

  5. Sue Coletta Says:

    Absolutely! I think it’s important to know what’s out there in order to write in that genre. I always learn something new. Reading like a writer is something I enjoy and recommend to everyone. Congrats on the new manuscript! I’m hoping to finish my fifth soon, though the first one was more of learning experience — not for public consumption. Ha!

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