Reading as a Writer
Article by ibibibi
Writing is mostly trial and error, but when you’re struggling with things like dialogue, world building, and pacing, you will find that reading is not only a fun escape, but a way to improve as a writer. Here you will find a guide on how to read things critically, accompanied with book recommendations.
Hopefully, you will add your own recs.
In order to master an art form—any art form—you must study it, intensely and purposefully. Artists go to art galleries and spend hours sketching the great works of past masters. Every actor I have ever known has been an avid movie and theatre buff, completely obsessed with other actors and how they do the things they do. Martial artists devote themselves to intense training.
Writers, obviously, must read.
But (unfortunately) it isn’t really enough to just read and hope to absorb through osmosis (I mean, this works to an extent, but it really isn’t the best way if you want to accomplish something specific). You have to read critically. You have to read the way your English teachers have been trying to get you to read since high school. It’s studying. Studying is hard. Mostly because most of us were never really taught how to do it.
But! (Fortunately), it’s also reading. And reading is fun. If you don’t think reading is the dopest shit ever, why do you want to be a writer, I mean seriously. You don’t have to read the Classics to do this (though you still should because some of them suck and some of them are awesome, and it’s your right to decide which ones are which), you can read anything and everything critically and it will improve your writing. Love Harry Potter? Excellent, dive right in! Mystery’s more your thing? Get to deducing, you clever thing, you! Got a thing for thrillers and horror? Better bring a flashlight and a cuddle blanket to hide under because things are about to get creepy!
“What you read is important, but not all important. How you read is the main consideration. For if you know how to read, there’s a world of education even in the newspapers, the magazines, on a single billboard or a stray advertising dodger.
The secret of good reading is this: read critically!”
—From You Can Do Anything! Fourteen Ways to Acquire Knowledge by James Mangan, 1936