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Reading to become an Author
by Susan Violante, Managing Editor, Reader Views
When I started working with Indie Authors twelve years ago, I had the surprise of my life when I learned many of them do not read regularly! I still do not understand how that is possible because my love for books developed as a reader since I was a child. I began writing in a diary when I was a pre-teen but really started experimenting with words, writing poetry and essays during my twenties. Although I did a lot of technical writing after college, it wasn’t until my mid-30s that I began writing articles and short stories for different publications. Throughout my life, I never stopped reading. Many of the books I read inspired me to write and even taught me the skills to write for publication.
Once we decide to write for an audience, we must learn the technical aspect of writing if we want the readers to get our message while being entertained. You see, sharing our story is not the exclusive reason for publishing. We also need to provide a pleasant experience for the audience if we want to be successful. To do so, we need to acquire written communication skills and a clear, unique voice. An editor can help to a certain point to make your book ready for publication, but you have to develop your writing skills to become an author, whether you follow the traditional or the Indie path. Signing up for writing workshops is good, but I found reading the work of other successful writers is a must. Below are some of the books that helped me.
The Divine Comedy by Dante Aliguieri (Learned Complexity and Literary vocabulary, setting, description)
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Grabriel Garcia Marquez (Learned how to plot through time – setting)
The Old Man and the Sea Ernest Hemmingway (Character Development, voice)
All books from Richard Bach (Character development – introducing deep messages in a story, voice)
Don Camilo Series by Guareschi (Character Development, dialogue, writing style, humorous scenes- voice)
Un Uomo by Oriana Fallaci (voice, style, vocabulary)
All Books by Robert Ludlum (plot development, action description, suspense pace)
The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and James McGill (Technical information to develop your style and voice)
On Writing by Stephen King (firsthand knowledge of the process and life of a writer, learned about perseverance)
Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott (inspiration, motivation)
In the end, the best way to learn is by example. By reading the works of others, we can see firsthand what works. We can enrich vocabulary. We can identify ourselves with other voices and styles and develop our own. All the knowledge we need as writers can be found and learned by the simple, enjoyable act of picking up a book. Happy reading!
A great post, thank you! It was very thoughtful to add the reasons why you chose each book or author.
The points you make I agree with, but I didn’t realize there were people trying to be book writers that don’t read books! This is an excellent list to give writers to have a place to start or refocus with. I will definitely look into the books you mentioned.
Excellent tips on ‘reading to become an author’ and for sharing some of the resources that have helped you! I need to implement my reading habit once again… so thank you for the encouragement! ~~
—Marjorie L. Anderson