In our first installment, iUniverse discussed ways to find time in our extremely frenetic schedules to read and finish a book. Today, iUniverse gives advice on what to read in order to improve your writing.
Analyze your genre: When reading books in your genre, read critically rather than leisurely. Think about what “works” in the book and what doesn’t. No writer is perfect. If you see a particular character or scene that you could do better, make a few changes to that character or scene and then put it into your book.
Read reviews of your competitors: Related to the above, read reviews of other writers in your genre and see what people liked and disliked about their books. People may find a certain theme or setting to be hackneyed, for example, or may be looking for a new dimension to a type of character.
Diversify and learn: Venturing out of your literary comfort zone can be beneficial to you intellectually, as it expands your mind. Furthermore, it can also help you to learn. Pick up a book that is a “page-turner”, e.g. by Robert Ludlum or John Grisham, and see how they demonstrate their craft. While you may not want your book to be a “page-turner” per se, you do want the story to have momentum and for readers to crave the pursuit of your narrative.
The Classics: Reading the classics like Dickens or Twain may not be your cup of tea, but keep in mind that these writers were obviously doing something right, as their books have been popular for over several generations. What is it about them that has this staying power? Read and think about it. You will probably discover that these writers have been able to create characters and use themes which transcend time.
What else should we read in order to become better writers? Write in and share it!