To Read Or Not To Read In Your Writing Genre

Posted: October 6, 2010 in Writing
Tags: , , , , ,

Photo courtesy of: http://www.ssflibrary.net

I know that the obvious answer to the question of whether an author should read in the genre that they’re righting one is Yes.  However, there’s a little more to it than that and because there is, I answer this question a little bit differently.

For me, I made the conscious decision that I wouldn’t read in my genre while I was writing the first draft of my novel.   I even went as far as not to really look at any movies within in my genre (as well as I could anyway!  I’m a movie buff!).  I did this because no matter how hard you try, you can’t help but be influenced in some kind of way from a book or movie.  I didn’t want my novel’s concept to be a conscious rip off of someone else.  It’s easy to read a scene in one book and say “Oh, I want a scene like that in mine.”  I wanted my story to grow on its own, find its own scenes and scenarios.  I wanted to get the core of my story down and be my own.  There are so many great stories and movies out there in the realms of Fantasy and  Sci Fi and I didn’t want my inspiration to become a reiteration of something else I read or saw somewhere. 

Now that I’m done with my first draft and I’m  satisfied with my core plot, I can now read books out there in the same circle that I want my book to be in.  (By the way, if you have any good recommendations on a books, please let me know!).  I can  just be inspired because I already know my story is solid and the direction of the series is crystal clear.  It’s easy now to appreciate a book for its story and what it offers – instead of constantly comparing it to mine!

What do you guys think?  If you were (or are) writing a book in a genre, would you still continue to read books similar to the one you’re writing?

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Comments
  1. Q: If you were (or are) writing a book in a genre, would you still continue to read books similar to the one you’re writing?

    Personally, for me, I feel I benefit from knowing my genre and knowing its trends. Right now, the fantasy market is truncated in vampire stories. Seriously, if I see one more new vampire novel come out, I’m going to throttle something. Not that I have anything against vampire stories, per se, but the market it so flooded with them right now it’s hard to find anything else.

    I’ve never really had a problem with writing like the authors I read, because, well, we’re two different people. I’m never going to write like Tracy Hickman because I’m NOT Tracy Hickman. Even if he and I wrote the same scene, the end product would still be different because we each have our own unique style and take on an angle.

    • MJ says:

      I definitely agree with you that knowing the trends are important – and yes, I’m a little over all of the vampire stories as well! LOL! I also agree that you can never write like another author because you aren’t that author. I guess for me I took the approach I did because being a newbie on the author’s block brings a lot of pressure to stand out from the rest. Once I came out of my writing bubble once the first draft was finished, I can then take a look at what’s out there and see how my book fits in the scheme of things!

      Thank you stopping by!

  2. Ann Marie says:

    1- Read the Maximum Ride Series (the first one is The Angel Experiment and there are 6 books out and the 7th is coming out next year ^^). It’s really good 🙂 or the Uglies Series (there are 4 and the last one sucked, in my opinion, but you should read it anyways) Their both Sci-Fi books. so… yeah 🙂

    Q: If you were (or are) writing a book in a genre, would you still continue to read books similar to the one you’re writing?

    A: Yes, cause that’s where I get my ideas from. I mean, I don’t steal stuff from other books or movies, but one thing could make something else pop into my head. It would be similar, but you could never tell the similarities :D. Also, I got the inspiration to right my book from one of my fave books anyways 🙂

  3. littlecalliope says:

    I would read in my genre. I suppose that if I ever wanted to do something markedly different from anything else in my genre, I would probably try to stay away from my genre – but the truth is that my stories tend to be love songs to particular genres, so I want to know what the tropes and cliches are, and I want to emulate them with reckless abandon.

    • MJ says:

      “I suppose that if I ever wanted to do something markedly different from anything else in my genre, I would probably try to stay away from my genre”

      You definitely hit another point for me as to why I didn’t read in my genre. I did want to do something different with my novel that wasn’t your typical fantasy story. However, it does make sense to read in your genre if you want your writing to stay within the normal confines of it.

      Thanks for your feedback!

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