Saturday, May 8, 2010

Reading Outside Genre

But first...

Yeah, I kind of failed at the reading week. I almsot finished the books I started reading. Then things came up and I just suck. Okay. It's not that big of a deal. I'll focus on reading 1-2 books a week for most of the year instead. I aimed too high with the read it week. Maybe I should do a read it month this summer. We'll see.

Now for the topic that I promised last time.

Not Reading in the Genre You're Writing

Yes, it's okay to not read in the genre you are writing. By this, I mean two different things.
1. reading in other genres
2. not reading books with similar themes while writing your own

Reading in other genres:
If you don't do this already. Tsk. You should. It's okay to have a preferred genre that you read more in but when writing and developing your skill as a writer, it's a good idea to read other genres. Because we can all learn a lot from everyone else that has come before us even if we never write in that specific genre.

There are elements, techniques, tricks of the trade that are not genre specific. Having good characters for example (and by good I mean well written because we all love those bad boy and bad girl characters too) is one that can be found in most genres, if not all. Other examples whould be foreshadowing, dream sequences, dialogue, setting and description. Showing not telling can be learned from reading other genres. But let's get a little more specific and look into specific genres and what can be learned from them.

Fantasy and Science Fiction = World Building
These authors sometimes work very hard to develope their world far beyond what gets put in the text of the books. Creating different races, creatures, governments, militaries is a lot of work. But it can also show insight into real worlds and how to show those aspects.

Mystery = Foreshadowing
Laying down clues that once the reader knows the result they will think "Oh, duh. That makes sense." while not feeling cheated. At least, that something I think a really good mystery could do but I don't read those books yet.

Romance = ummm Romance
Want to have a side story involving romance? Why not see what the people do in full on romance books? Sure, some of it might not be of help, some can read as a bit formulaic but seeing characters reactions to each other, reading how people fall in love is bound to at least give some suggestions, ideas on how to have characters fall in love even in the middle of dangerous situations (like in thriller/suspense types).

Not reading similar books:
This might sound a little weird but I've heard of published authors doing this, so I'm going to go with them. For example, the author of "The Good Fairies of New York" didn't read books like "American Gods" because it had gods and goddesses as characters. The reasoning behind not reading similar books while writing the draft (it's okay to read when taking breaks between drafts) is because the writer doesn't want the other works to influence their own story. That's the reason not to read in the genre/type of novel while writing.

Sometimes it's just what works best for the writer.

Confession: I don't read every genre I write.

That's right. Now, why you may ask? Well, sometimes I have ideas and I start writing them even if I don't know how to write them. Other times, I enjoy what I do with my own characters but the genre as a whole doesn't interest me.

I write erotica/romance novels and short stories. I don't read them. Well, I glance over other entries in the erotica contests but I don't seek out erotica to read. Why? For one, most the people that enter the contests I do on the sight write straight erotica. Boring! It doesn't interest me in the slightest. See an occasion female/female but often times they will add a male in there part way in the story and that just frustrates me. I hate that! And it's even rare to have male/male. But the truth is, sex in general doesn't interest me. So, why write them? It's what is in my head. It's my characters and their stories. Sure, sex is something I don't care about (leaning towards asexual) but that's not true of my novel characters. They are not me and it's their story I'm telling, not my own.

I have a mystery series started. Have I read a mystery book? No. I hadn't planned on every writing mystery but it's a story and it want's to be done. Will I never read in the genre? No. But I'm waiting until after I have the first draft of the first book written.

So, what about you...
Do you read other genres?
Do you ever write in a genre you've never read in?


Harley D. Palmer said...

I love mysteries and crime novels but I don't write in them. I am picky about the fantasy novels that I read - which is the genre that I write in.

You have an award at my blog!

Ee Leen Lee said...

I don't read the sort of books I write sometimes- like cookbooks and non-fiction.

its good to be peripatetic

Dawn Embers said...

Yay comments!

Harley - That's interesting. My favorite books are fantasy, like elves and mages types and epics. I haven't written one of those yet. Instead I have an urbanfantasy/paranormalromance and a fantasy/scifi series.

Ee Leen Lee - Thanks for the comment. I've never read a cookbook, just skimmed for recipes. Might put one together though, or have been meaning to, as a family project from great grandma's recipes.