The Importance of Reading Widely When Writing a Novel
Reading widely can improve your writing. If you are wondering how to write a novel and are struggling even to contemplate where to begin, start by reading other books. That may sound strange, but what we are suggesting is reading not just to enjoy the story, but also to study the writing style.
It is always worthwhile reading widely. Read genres that you have never read before, such as military, romance or science fiction. If you normally read books written by Catherine Cookson, choose something different such as Ben Elton for a change. Reading widely will enable you to see the different styles available to you, from which you will be able to ascertain what works and what doesn’t, such as different types of format, layout, style, structure, characters, etc. This will give you more ideas before you decide what to write about so you can begin writing a novel. When reading, consider the following in order to improve your expression:
- What made a passage exciting, interesting or boring?
- How did the author finish an old subject and start a new one?
- How were things said?
- Was the dialogue realistic?
- What made the characters convincing?
You can never read too much and you can learn from other people’s styles to see what suits you. Remember to adopt your own style, rather than trying to copy another’s. Try not to worry too much about style so that your writing becomes self-conscious and stilted, otherwise your reader will give up and you can be sure of poor reviews.
As well as reading other novels, it is also useful to read other types of literature such as newspapers – both tabloids and the broadsheets – to see how they use language to attract the reader’s attention and influence them. The purpose of a newspaper is to report the news; however, it is an interesting exercise to read a report in a newspaper and see how easily you can actually identify the writer’s own opinions or that of the newspaper.
Generally, you will find that they are not impartial; everyone has an opinion on something or other. This is simply because it is almost impossible to write something without being influenced by your own beliefs and values. In fact, it is virtually impossible not to judge a world event or the behaviour of another human being.
This is because we all operate within our own model of the world and see things through our own past experiences and current situation. Often we judge within seconds without realising.
Know your market and adapt your style to your chosen market. You will be familiar from reading different newspapers that the writers of these newspapers use different styles for the benefit of their own readership. The Telegraph and The Times, for instance, capture a different audience to that of The Sun. Purchase a couple of different papers and compare how they report the same event or subject matter. See if you can spot any differences, such as the type of language and style they have used. Notice how the sentences and paragraphs vary in length and how the language used differs.
For a comprehensive guide on how to write a novel take a look at My Guide: How to Write a Novel, which is packed with information to take you step by step through the process of writing your first novel and improving your writing.
If you have already written your novel and require a professional proofreading and editing service, contact our team at The Editing House. Latest prestigious clients include Studio Press and Hay House Publishers.