Posts Tagged improve your writing by reading

The books that are our teachers – and 5 of my favourite reads (at @muddysurrey )

Today I have a guest spot at Muddy Stilettos, talking about five books I can read again and again. I read them chiefly for pleasure, but also with awe and envy.

Writers learn from reading as much as from writing. I can’t tell you the number of times I have advised an editing client: read more. The problems I’ve found in your manuscript would be solved by tuning your awareness through reading. This goes for problems with style, use of back story, dialogue, descriptions, interiority…

Writing prose is not just storytelling, or plotting, or worldbuilding, or character development, or structure management. It is also a performance, like an elaborate magic trick, enacted on the reader’s mind through your use of words. To do it well, you must understand how your reader thinks, what they are interested in, how they are second-guessing you, how they are responding to the visual shape of every sentence, every comma. Some of this can be taught, but a lot is picked up by constant exposure, by reading like writers.

How do we do that? Here are a few recent posts.

Reading as a duty and reading for pleasure.

All about reading groups and writing groups – an episode of So You Want To Be A Writer.

Are you a writer? Don’t neglect your reading – post at Writers Helping Writers.

Reading vs watching and The Night Manager – why I prefer the book.

How to read like a writer – another episode of So You Want To Be A Writer.

Why you should read poetry as well – 11 poets to help you polish your prose, an interview with poetry evangelist Joe Nutt.

Three books I wish I’d written. And another five.

Circling back to the top, here are the five books I nominated at Muddy Stilettos (which I always want to spell with an e, stilettoes). These books were milestones for my latest novel Ever Rest, and they will continue to influence and inspire me, whatever I write. Which books are your eternal teachers? (And do come over. High heels are optional.)

PS If you’re quick, you can enter this giveaway to win a signed print copy of Ever Rest.

PPS If you’re looking for writing advice, my Nail Your Novel books are full of tips. If you’re curious about my own creative writing, find novels here and my travel memoir here. And if you’re curious about what’s been going on on at my own writing desk, here’s my latest newsletter. You can subscribe to future updates here.

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