Reading helps writing

by Vijay K Kerji
(India)

Hi, Glen,


I come across several authors advising aspiring writers to read a lot to improve the writing skills. Does it mean one needs to look for how others have written while reading? Or just read like a normal reader? Will our writing improves automatically in subconcious level without our notice? (Something like our mind records the style of writing.)

This question is something unusual but I am sure your answer will further encourage us to read others work and improve our writing.

Thanks in advance for your response :),
Cheers,
Vijay

Answer: In my opinion, a combination of all these factors come into play.

Simply reading a lot will unconsciously grow your understanding and command of language. It develops your vocabulary; your awareness of standard grammar, spelling, and punctuation; and your instinct regarding how to make ideas and words flow well across a page. It helps you develop a sense of what good writing sounds like.

Even better in this regard is reading and memorizing. Acting in plays (where you must learn a script) or memorizing poetry are traditional ways to improve one's language skills.

Of course, you can accelerate this process by also reading consciously. Taking the time to analyze a number of great stories, to see how the plot is structured, will teach you how to structure your own plots. You can do this with films too. And the same is true for studying narrative styles or characterization.

The other thing reading can give you is an awareness of our literary heritage. This can be especially important if you are writing literary fiction. But even in genre fiction, writers borrow ideas, situations, and characters from classic works of literature and mythology all the time, adapting them to the stories they want to tell today.

I can't tell you how many times I've seen stories that draw upon Grimm's fairy tales, Greek mythology, Bible stories, Shakespeare, or even Moby Dick. Sometimes this is done in an obvious and forthright manner; other times it is more subtle.

Of course, while some writers freely borrow from the classics, others prefer to ignore them and search for stories that are wholly original and based upon the contemporary experiences of real people. And many will combine the two approaches.

One other reason to read a lot: by doing so you support writers, public libraries, bookstores and the publishing industry, even if only in a small way. Contributing to the demand for stories creates opportunities for writers, including yourself.

We are all in this together, after all.

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Apr 23, 2015
Thank You
by: Vijay

Glen,

You gave us enough details to know why writers must read other's work. Your reason to support libraries and book stores and in turn authors in the procvess is pragmatic. Thank you very much for providing these details.

Cheers,

Vijay

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