Tuesday, April 26, 2011

V is for...

Vvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvphlbbbbt

Okay, okay, but that is how I felt when I sat down last night to consider what I might write about. V has been one of those toughies. I had a list of words, but didn't feel any of them.

Anyway, without further ado...

V is for...

Voracious Reader.

To be a writer, it is commonly believed that you must also be a reader. Otherwise, how do you know what people want to read? We learn, in all facets of life, by observing others and then practicing. This is one reason why the ubiquitous "they" recommend reading in your own genre while writing. You can observe what it is you particularly like or don't like in your chosen genre. (An aside: I am about ready to add "genre" to the list of profane words, along with query, platform and synopsis. It will then be referred to as the "G" word).

I've spent a lot of time in the last year reading YA Fantasy. I discovered new genres I hadn't yet known about, such as Dystopian Fantasy, thanks to these books. I had skipped YA fiction when I was younger, jumping to adult horror, fantasy and a sprinkling of romance and sci-fi. Looking at all the selection now, I figure I missed out on quite a lot of good books, so I'm enjoying going back and reading them now.

I devoured books then and I still do now. A lot of parents say they don't have time to read, and that was true for a little while, but then I began to carry a book around with me everywhere I went, tucking them in diaper bags and car door pockets. Eventually, I made a point of going to bed at a reasonable enough time that I could read, though that still made for many late nights when I couldn't put a book down. Insomnia helps with that problem, too, though. I found that reading a book before bed could help me unspool my mind enough to be able to sleep without too many thoughts running through my head. Well, some nights.

I haven't exclusively read YA this year, of course. I'm still reading my usual series and trying to experience new authors and new series. As long as I'm reading, I'm happy. Plus, I'm learning. Two other "V" words one can pick up from reading are Voice and Vocabulary. I once knew someone who carried a spiral notebook around with her if she was reading anything, including textbooks. She would write any word she didn't know in the notebook and look it up later, writing the definition next to the word. She wasn't into writing or anything; she just liked learning new words. I'm not saying you should carry around a notebook and a dictionary, but mentally file a word you enjoy for later use. It doesn't have to just be single words, either. You can pick up descriptive phrases and various terms you may not have heard of before.

I sort of jumped all over with this, but the point of it is to read if you want to write. Read as much as you can. Read in your genre, but don't be afraid to explore others, as well. Read with a writer's eye, and pay attention to how they do things you particularly like. Is this writer very good at dialogue? Why? What are they doing differently? Perhaps this writer describes characters or settings so brilliantly that you can instantly picture them, smell the flowers, feel the breeze. Figure out how and learn from it.

But be sure to enjoy your reading along the way, as well.

What about you, what do you read? Is it always in the same genre, or do you branch out? Do you read in the same genre you write in?

Happy Writing!

30 comments:

  1. I am truly enjoying reading all the great posts in this A-Z challenge. I have found many, many great writers through this and love reading the variety of writing styles and themes. Thanks for offering a post on this subject, love it!

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  2. Good choice for V, I thought this was a hard letter too.

    I read anything and everything, lately I've been reading a lot of writing books and I'm enjoying those. I usually stick to fiction though, I love mysteries and thrillers, and really pretty much anything. I've always loved to read, but I try to pay more attention now while I'm reading to see if I can learn from the writers I enjoy.

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  3. I've had such a hard time reading the past few years, because I couldn't shut my writing/editing brain off. It was frustrating. A few weeks ago, I was so burnt out from working on my manuscript, and aside from my own projects, my co-author and I were trying to tackle the fourth book in our series. Due to her life and individual projects, she felt as burnt out as me, and she suggested we take a reading break. So we have. It has been MARVELOUS. I set that writing/editing part of me aside just so I could enjoy some awesome stories, and I have been reading all sorts of genres. (I still have a fondness for fantasy; I always have and always will. I also read YA; I hardly ever read an adult book. I am simply drawn far more to the YA stories.)

    This has also done wonders for my brain. I feel refreshed and I know soon the writing part of me will reemerge and I'll be lost in my worlds--but right now, it's wonderful to be lost in the worlds that others created, and I am determined that I am not going to fall so far behind on reading again. Writers really do need to read, for so many reasons.

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  4. I've always been a voracious reader. I may have slowed as a young mother, but I never stopped. Now that I'm writing, I find so much to learn in each book, good or bad. I read before going to sleep, too. It does help quiet the mind.

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  5. I too am a voracious reader. I'll read just about anything in any genre. I've been on a big YA kick lately because there are so many great YA novels out there.

    Like Shelli said, there's so much to learn in every book. Even if it's a book I don't like, it helps me figure out what I want to avoid in my own writing.

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  6. Some number of years ago, there was a survey, of sorts, done of some of the most successful writers. They were asked to list the top 10 things someone that wanted to be a writer should do. The top two on -every- list were reading and writing. None of the authors had anything that was the same after the first two.

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  7. I love to read. I used to call myself a bookaholic. I'm so grateful for audiobooks now because the actual time I have to sit down and read is small, so I have a large collection of audiobooks. I had to train myself to listen, though, and there are some tasks I just can't do while I'm listening. I'm trying to get the stack of books on my nightstand whittled down.

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  8. I practically only read in the same genre I write in - chick lit. That said, I'm trying to branch out at the moment and posted to my readers for suggestions. I already feel that it is doing me good and making me consider different options in my writing
    Great post
    Lx

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  9. I read pretty much anything. I'm lost without a book or something to read. I read on the bus, in the bath, while I eat breakfast (so long as the kids keep things to a dull roar) and any other time I can. I write YA, so I usually pick a couple of new YA books when I go the library, but also a couple of grown-up ones too. Sometimes literary, sometimes mysteries, sometimes cyber thrillers, whatever catches my eye when I read the blurb. I'm not a huge sci-fi fan, but occasionally something gets by me.

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  10. I devour and inhale books, usually in my own genre the realm of fantasy or VA fantasy.

    But John Grisham sometimes pulls me into his world.

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  11. I've only become a semi-voracious reader over the past few years. I'm trying to focus on my genre (humorous nonfiction). There's just too much good reading to do.
    Thanks for following. I'm glad to do the same.
    Cheers,
    Robyn

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  12. I don't write, but I love to read and I am always in the middle of a good book. I don't stick to the same genre, I'm all over the place and I very much enjoy YA books too. I've read some really terrific YA's over the past few years. Like you, I think I skipped those and went straight into adult fiction when I was a teen.

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  13. I totally feel Voracious reader. Nowadays I'm an anxious reader cos I don't have much time to sit down and read, but I love love love books. Thanks for this post!

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  14. Lately, all I've had time for is devouring blog posts. When this Challenge is done, I'll settle down with a good book or two. I can't seem to read just one book at a time anymore.

    I didn't have a problem with V. X and Z, though, are still fairly nebulous. Better get crackin'!

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  15. I, too, am a voracious reader : fantasy, science fiction, murder mysteries, essays by Twain, Gore Vidal, Harlan Ellison. Poetry, both old and new. Classics re-read and discovered anew. Non-fiction books on psychology, history, science, nature. All books are fascinating to me, Roland

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  16. Voracious reader is a great V topic. I was a late developer, now I read much more. :O)

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  17. I completely agree with your initial thoughts for V!! I was speaking with a friend of mine who has been reading my own posts and asked her, "What on Earth do I do for V blog?" She has not read my book but she does know of it so she suggested I write about my vampire novel. I could have kicked myself for not realizing it myself!

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  18. Voracious reading is a great subject for letter V. I read about six books a week. Without the library service this would be an expensive habit ;)
    I enjoyed reading some of your posts. I haven't been able to get around anything like the number of Blogs in the A to Z Challenge April is the season of work and the resumption of the DIY home improvement projects - blah!
    I chose Values for my letter v. The 26 consecutive posts on Characterisation is making me a picky reader.

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  19. You were not all over the place with your post. It is really great. Thanks for visiting my blog--now I can follow yours.
    I write a few different genres, but read a lot more than I write. I get bored sticking with one type of book. I usually vacillate between fiction and nonfiction.
    Great post!

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  20. Nice post. I do enjoy reading a lot of different things. However, it's hard to read when your writing is under deadline which mine is now!

    Thank you for stopping by and commenting on deja vu. That's a subject I find fascinating!

    I love your artful background!

    Monti
    NotesAlongTheWay

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  21. I am DEFINITELY a voracious reader. Always have been. I read everything, from romance to biographies, to historical non fiction. Love it all, and I ALWAYS have books in my bag!! ;)

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  22. Reading has always been a passion--something I hungered for, and missed when I couldn't have a book in my hands. Love your blog. I'll be checking in on you now & then.

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  23. I love reading...but I don't always read in the genre I'm working on.

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  24. Thanks for dropping by my blog!
    I totally agree. I think as writers, we have to constantly read-especially in the genre we're writing in.
    nutschell
    www.thewritingnut.com

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  25. I love reading YA paranormal and romance. Sometimes I step of those but you can tell my tastes by what dominates my bookshelf and wishlists.

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  26. Snakesmom, I've also enjoyed discovering all the different blogs and personalities through the challenge. It's fun to see how different a lot of them are with the same letter.

    Julie, I need to read Stephen King's "On Writing" again. He was an English professor (I believe it was English), and it was a good book when I read it, oh, about a decade ago.

    Laura, excellent point. We definitely shouldn't be reading solely to learn the craft, but for the pleasure of it. I'm glad you got to take a break from it and just enjoy.

    Shelli, it really does quiet the mind unless, of course, the book is one that is intended to really make you think. Then...maybe not so much.

    M.J., good point, one can definitely learn a lot from books that aren't so good, as well.

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  27. Andrew, definitely, that makes a lot of sense. (Now I'm curious what other types of things were on there, but I'm betting it's stuff like routine and things that only work for some people).

    Donna, I have a friend who calls herself a bibliophile, because she reads so much. I've done audio books on road trips, and they were great for that. Like you, I think I'd have to train myself to listen when I wasn't just a captive audience.

    Laura, I will have to go see what people have recommended (I love to hear about good books, too), and see if there is anything I can add.

    Kate, I'm also only an occasional sci-fi reader. I love when the library has a section with random recommended books, because it's a great way to find a book I wouldn't otherwise have discovered.

    Huntress, I enjoy a good Grisham here and there, as well, though I find I have to be in the mood to select one of his books.

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  28. Robyn, I think I've done far too little reading in humorous non-fiction. I used to love Dave Barry (does he count?). I'll have to see what books you recommend.

    Heather, it's interesting, because stats show that males are still skipping YA, which is why I'd like to put out some books with strong main male characters in YA. I have to wonder if there were many great selections way back when in YA or if it is somewhat newer?

    Damyanti, I hope you get some good reading time in!

    Walk2write, I've definitely cut out some book reading time during this challenge. I've enjoyed the challenge, but look forward to May.

    Roland, awesome! There's a child psychology textbook I was wanting to read about development, but haven't had the chance for yet.

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  29. Madeleine, all that matters is that you came around! ;0p

    Lydia, I think for parts of this challenge I was over-thinking it, which is why I had a hard time picking some letters.

    Elaine, I know how you feel about not getting around as much as you intended. Every time I made a dent, more people had signed up (which was great, but hard to follow)!

    Susan, sometimes I just get in a rut and find myself reading the same things, but then get bored with it and realize what I've been doing. And thanks!

    Monti, under deadline and participating in the challenge...I'm impressed!

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  30. Nicole, me, too! There's nothing worse than being stuck somewhere without a book. (OK, there are probably a LOT of things worse than that, but it may not feel like it at the time).

    Susan, thank you and welcome!

    Raising Marshmallows, I think it might get a little old after awhile to only be reading in the genre you were writing.

    Nutschell, I agree! Read, read, read.

    Patricia, the same can be said of my bookshelves and wish list.

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