Reading for fun can also set you up for a hot-selling novel.
I am constantly asked where I get my inspiration from. The truth is, it’s some intangible place from where my imagination conjures up scenes and scenarios that are generally the starting point for anything I write. So it’s not a question I can answer readily. But I feel truly blessed to have it in abundance. But I feel it is also because I have nurtured this place through activities such as reading, challenging, criticising and exploring thoughts and places.
Reading widely certainly does feed that well of inspiration and helps you grow and explore further with your mind. And like your body, if you feed it a diet of poorly written and planned books, guess what, you’re more than likely to produce work that is similar. So be picky with the things you like to read, challenge yourself, choose authors that help you escape, or entertain, with so much out there you can find just about anything your heart desires.
So now you have a library full of great moments shared on a couch, in bed, or at the park, it’s time to use a critical eye on your reading in hopes to improve your writing (if you are so inclined).
What was it about the novel that you enjoyed the most?
Did certain sentences or quotes resonate with you?
What made a certain character your favourite?
Collecting all of the best bits from the books you read can give you a toolbox of skills for writing your own novel. Protagonists that have depth in character, foibles, and a certain moral standing that transform into someone different through events in your story. The way settings are described, the types of words and sentence length for pacing and tension. I could go on and on with lists of things I’ve garnered from reading.
Though that’s not exactly true, but for the most part it does help broaden your horizons and force your thinking into a creative space. Or at least give you a starting point.
It can also give you a checklist to review your writing… depending on your preferred narrative style… but I always ask a few questions like: is it engaging, is it funny, how excited am I to read the next chapter, does it make sense, where do I think the story is leading me, and so on.
You will never type something out and have the final product, there is always a number of edits or reviews before you get that final product.
My reading habits have also helped widen my vocabulary, taught me about the tone and rhythm of a book. And, getting away from grammar and spelling, reading has also been market research. If I am planning to publish in a certain genre, I like to read as much as I can in that field to see what my competition is doing. How will my book stand against what is already on the market? Is it on trend? What kinds of things attracted you to buy this book in the first place – the blurb, the cover, a website add, a recommendation? These things will give you clues into what you are going to have to do after the writing is done. No book becomes a best seller just by handing it over to a publisher and crossing your fingers. So collect ideas and start a marketing campaign now.
If you write reviews, or read blogs of book reviews, take note on what was compelling about certain novels. What is popular. It will give you a rough trend forecast, a list of friends and associates that may help promote your novel in the future. Also, what things are other authors doing to promote their book?
Get those ideas. Write it all down. Research your genre. Know your market… and go!
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