IWSG – Reading Is Fundamental

So it’s October. Can you believe we are so close to the end of the year? Man, it’s been a long one. But we’re back with a new month, and a new IWSG post.

There’s a lot going on, the same old insecurities and worries are hanging around. I have a new release next week so there’s the added stresses that come along with that. I tried to think of what I wanted to post about and in the end, I just couldn’t narrow it down so going to keep it simple.

October 2 question – It’s been said that the benefits of becoming a writer who does not read is that all your ideas are new and original. Everything you do is an extension of yourself, instead of a mixture of you and another author. On the other hand, how can you expect other people to want your writing, if you don’t enjoy reading? What are your thoughts?

***I’m in the camp that you need to read in the genre you’re writing. Each genre has it’s own set of reader expectations, a set of guidelines your story needs to operate within to fit its label. A mystery must be solved at the end, a suspense needs to have the ‘bad guy’ caught, and a romance must have a HEA or HFN (happily ever after or happily for now) ending.

If you don’t read in the genre you’re writing, and thinking you are going to reinvent the wheel to be edgy and new, you are setting out to cheat readers of the expectations they have. Speaking as a romance writer, I see this sort of thinking surrounding my chosen genre a lot. People want to be revolutionary in questioning why a genre romance needs to HAVE the HEA or HFN ending. They want to tout it as being ‘boring’ or ‘predictable’ and not ‘real life’ and other such excuses.

When you read in the genre you want to write, especially if you’re new to it, it’s the best research you could have. There are countless authors who spin the basic ideas into something new and magical. How I handle a trope like friends-to-lovers will be vastly different from how my friend Amelia Foster might handle it. We both have varying writing styles, but we both know that the readers are expecting certain things out of the story. Ignoring what’s out there with the thought you will be different is in a way thumbing your nose up at your audience.

And within a genre are various sub-genres. I’m a contemporary writer, but if I ever decided to branch out into say PNR (paranormal romance) I’d have to take up reading those books so I’d understand that while the romance aspect is generally the same, I know nearly nothing on the paranormal side. Research.

Reading what’s out there teaches you what your audience is looking for. It’s a way to respect their expectations and the money you hope they will spend on your story. Your author voice is yours and yours alone. How you weave the tale will be different from the stories you’re reading and enjoying. And you’ll learn things about yourself in the process. I’m terrible with making my words poetic. I’m a pretty linear thinker so my writing is the same. I have to work harder at finding ways to make things prettier as it were. Reading and taking in how others do it helps me get to that next level of digging deeper to pull out the emotion. Not full on purple prose, but some where in the middle that fits my voice.

That’s it for this month. Reading is fundamental and it helps you be a better writer.

Until next time

~Meka

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group is a home for writers in all stages; from unpublished to bestsellers. Our goal is to offer assistance and guidance. We want to help writers overcome their insecurities, and by offering encouragement we are creating a community of support.

The awesome co-hosts for the October 2nd posting of the IWSG are Ronel Janse van Vuuren, Mary Aalgaard, Madeline Mora-Summonte, and Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor!

14 thoughts on “IWSG – Reading Is Fundamental

  1. Ellen Jacobson says:

    I agree that reading in your genre is so important. I can’t imagine not knowing reader expectations, like a HEA / HFN in romance. There is still so much latitude to play around with the genre conventions and have a fresh take on things without disappointing your readers when they don’t get what they expected.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Meka James says:

      It would not be good to write a book in a certain genre then cheat the readers out of their generalized expected outcome. And I agree, you do have so much room to play around with things while still coloring mostly inside the lines.

      thanks for stopping by

      Like

  2. Brigitte Kirady says:

    Yes! So much YES! If anything, anything at all, writers must read their own genre. They’ll see there’s so much wiggle room within genres, that they don’t actually all look or sound alike. But they’ll also learn there are important rules to the game and trying to break those will cost them readers. I despise being let down at the end of a book. Sometimes it’s my own fault (I literally lost sleep after finishing The Hunger Games because I so desperately wanted Katniss to end up with the other guy). That wasn’t the writer’s fault. That was on me. But one of the most awful books I ever read was Intervention by Robin Cook. Not only was the writing atrocious IMO, the ending left me utterly pissed off. I wasted a whole evening reading this terrible story and it didn’t even meet any of the ending expectations I had for that genre. Grr! But I digress.
    Reading is important, writers!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Meka James says:

      I totally agree. There are so many stories out there, that the chances of you copying them is slim. Even without reading you can have a similar overlap of a book, I’ve had that happen to me. The basic idea was the same, but how me and the other author handled it was totally different. But I deliberately didn’t read her book until after I’d finished mine. LOL

      I’ve not read either book you mentioned, but sorry you had bad experiences with both. However nothing is worse than getting an ending that totally pisses you off. It’s like a slap in the face to the time and effort you put into the story. LOL I’ve been there as well.

      thanks for stopping by.

      Like

    • Meka James says:

      So very true. You don’t have to ‘write to market’ but you do need to know the trends and things that are happening just so you stay in the know about your reader base.

      thanks for stopping by

      Like

    • Meka James says:

      Reading offers many benefits for a writer. Craft books and everything are great, but seeing what’s out there. Making note of writing you enjoy (or don’t enjoy) can help you on your own journey.

      thanks for stopping by

      Like

  3. jmh says:

    I love to read, but I have to admit I’m guilty of not reading my genre. My primary series is supernatural suspense, and I don’t believe I’ve read any supernatural suspense, though I could be wrong. I honestly wouldn’t know where to start, and while mediums and spirits interest me, a lot of supernatural suspense seems to deal with witches and demons, which I’m not as interested in.

    I don’t read a lot of dark fiction in general, though I have the classics on my TBR list. I tend to read true crime, memoirs, or “lighter” fiction. I need some light after all that darkness.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Meka James says:

      That can be hard when you’re not writing something that fits neatly into a genre box. It becomes a mash up of having to read options from other genres to find what could work for you. At the end of the day, you’re still doing what needs to be done to deliver compelling stories to the readers that want them.

      I could see needing to read light after writing so much dark. Balance is a good thing.

      thanks for stopping by

      Like

  4. Shannon Lawrence says:

    Good point on reader expectations. I’ve seen some folks who have no idea what’s expected in the genre they write, and they keep getting bad reviews, etc. If you don’t read in that genre, don’t write in it. And if you don’t enjoy reading that genre, why are you writing in it?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Meka James says:

      Oh boy! Yes. I know reviews are for readers and all, but if there seems to be a common theme in them if the writer is reading them, then maybe it’s time to do some self reflection. It’s hard to say. Knowing the basics of your chosen genre is important on delivering what readers are looking for.

      And I agree, why write in a genre if you don’t enjoy reading it?

      thanks for stopping by

      Like

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