Reading widely. In this post, I will go over what I think reading widely is and my feelings about its importance for writers. But it boils down to one thing: reading widely brings new and innovative ideas into whatever genre someone is writing in.
I could leave it at that, but it wouldn’t be fair. You, hopefully, came are reading this post to hear my own views on the topic. So, without further stalling, let’s dive into the dark and inky depths of today’s subject.
What Does “Read Widely” Mean?
To put it simply, reading widely is when a reader or writer and in this case, someone who is both, reads more than just their normal fare. It’s looking beyond the confines of Romance, Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Horror and other genres a person may prefer in order to broaden our horizons as readers.
Why Is It Important?
Reading widely can be argued to be important for every reader, whether they’re also a writer or not. I would argue it is especially important for writers because it brings in new or little-used ideas that may otherwise have not been brought in.
One example that comes to mind is a Horror writer branching out into big-R Romance. Romance, for good or ill, is a major desire in our society. Most people want to find love. This adds an entirely new subject to the Horror writer’s repertoire of terrifying life events.
Imagine, if you will, a someone using a typical Romance genre plot with a pair of serial killers, a cannibalistic serial killer and a normal if slightly fucked up person. Or a demon from the depths of hell and an otherwise normal person who gradually comes to accept their demonic love’s nature. None of these is a pretty scenario. Though, as someone who wrote a short story about two serial killers who fellow in love, I admit a fondness for turning the mundane and even sweet terrifying. And these scenarios are right up my alley.
Now imagine someone taking a normal Mystery plot and transplanting it into a made up Fantasy world, or the very ancient past. I’m talking Homo Neanthalensis levels of ancient or early human society. While neither of those are exceedingly rare genre combinations, they’re very much still extremely fertile ground for both potential readers and the writer.
This brings us to the next topic…
How Do You Read More Widely?
I’m sure this section seems needless to some. Reading more widely is, after all, a matter of just reading things you normally don’t read more often. However, not everyone is prepared to jump right in and read more widely from here on out. Some tips seemed to be in order so that people can inch their way out of their little niche and into the wider world of reading.
- Widen horizons in your normal genre first.
- Try a genre closely related to your own.
- Read works outside your normal genre by authors you already enjoy.
I won’t pretend any of these are easy. A writer may only like one genre, for example, Fantasy. But, eventually, branching out into Historical Fantasy or some other genre can gradually lead to an increase in the desire to read more standard Historical Fiction. The same can be said of Gothic Fiction, Mystery/Thriller, or any other genre. And as I mentioned previously, this makes a writer better at the craft. Benefiting not only the larger story overall but subplots as well.
A good story, whether Fantasy, Horror or another incorporates minor plots/plot variations from other genres. Learning how to master those genres and plots by reading and understanding whys and hows enhances our own work.
Reading: The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
Watching: Being 17
Listening To: H.I.M Razorblade Romance
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