Updates sporadically.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Be A Reader

Go me for being oh-so topical. Yes, I partook as a child. And yes, I'm a backer for the Kickstarter.

I missed yesterday's update. But I have a good reason.

I was reading.

I just finally got a library card, and may have gone a little crazy with it. You've got to understand, libraries make my soul feel complete. As much as my partner and kittens. I need libraries to be a real girl.

I love reading. I was definitely that kid with a flashlight under the covers in bed at night with a book. That's actually how I finished Bridge to Teribithia in 4th grade -- alone under the covers at 4am sobbing as quietly as a could so as not to wake my sister sleeping in the next bed over.*

I think this is an experience a lot of you, dear readers, can probably relate to. If not, find that little kernel inside of you that loves to read, and give it some water and light and let it flourish. Because a good writer should be a Reader, too.**

Being a writer without being a reader is like being a chef who doesn't eat. It just doesn't work. In order to be constantly growing and improving, you need to expose yourself to the work of others -- you need to see what's out there, experience what's available, reflect on how you would've done something and how somebody else chose a different path.

Reading is a part of improving. It's not about copying -- I fully, 100% believe that there are untold stories and unexpressed ideas. People who say otherwise are just narrow, or else the worst kind of cynics who have a very limited view of the human mind and imagination. Reading isn't going to pollute you with ideas that have already been done. It is going to expand your mind by exposing you to new ideas, styles, characters, voices, etc ad infinitum.

And here's the other important piece, that's totally schmantasy: you need to read new releases in your genre/geared towards your audience in order to understand the marketplace.

I am the kind of author who believes that the story comes first. You need to be loyal to your story first and foremost, not to the marketplace.

I am also the kind of author who believes that you need to understand the marketplace and readership in order to be successful. Not that you need to write what others are writing. If you are bad at writing romance, then for the love of all things Written, do NOT feel as though you are compelled to write a love triangle. Quite frankly, that market is saturated. Write towards your audience, but also write to fill in the gaps. Where is there a vacuum that could be filled? Do you happen to enjoy writing male characters? Well lucky you, that's a veritable dearth of male leads in YA fantasy right now.

Have you noticed the improbably lack of PoC in sci-fi? Maybe that story you've been weaving in your head is the perfect opportunity.

Do you absolutely love paranormal fiction, do you devour it like a blood-starved vampire? Just because there's more vampire books out there than you could possibly shake a stake at doesn't mean you can't join in. Find a unique take on the vampire novel or -- hey, look at this -- find another paranormal creature to feature. What about mermaids? Mermaids could be cool.

So go forth, my friends. Go to the bookstore, grab your Kindles, sign in to your Scribd's, hit up your local library. Go forth and READ.

* SPOILER ALERT: Bridge to Teribithia is super sad.
**That's right, a capital-R Reader. It's that important.

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