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May 7, 2021

Read Widely

Everyone has their favourite authors, genres, and series of books. It’s easy to stick to those same books and read them over and over.

If you ever needed a reason to go beyond your favourite is this: one of the best ways to improve your writing is to read widely.

A few of the things you can learn from reading include:

  • learn different ways of telling a story – not every story starts at point A and goes through to point B. Reading different ways that authors tell stories can give you ideas for your own stories
  • learn different ways of telling a story – from a straight forward narrative to a story told in letters to stories that are a mix of different styles. Reading widely means you can experience how authors have used these different ways of telling a story before you try it yourself
  • learn all sorts of interesting facts – whether you read fiction or non-fiction, you never know what sorts of interesting facts you’ll learn, and you never know when they will be useful for a future story of your own (or help you win the next trivia quiz you attend!)
  • learn how the experts do it – there are so many story telling techniques, and reading widely will show you how the experts do it. When I was writing my picture book, My Princess Wears a Superhero Cape, I read a lot of princess picture books to see how other people wrote princess stories
  • learn interesting words and descriptions – every now and again, you may come across an interesting word you haven’t heard before, or a fascinating way to describe something that can give you ideas in your stories
  • learn about genre – by reading outside your favourite genre, you will learn more about genre and what makes a genre stand out. This includes stories for different age groups. There are certain things that readers expect in a mystery, for example, that they won’t expect in a fantasy novel.
  • learn about story structure – reading stories helps you learn about story structure, as well as other elements of story like character development, how to include back story into a novel, world building and more. You will learn a lot about this almost through osmosis, so when you read a book about writing or attend a workshop, there is a lot that will make sense to you because you have read it in books

Many of the above lessons can be learned from your favourites, however reading widely will open you up to a wider range of styles and genre and give you ideas for your own writing.

Next week, we’ll give you some tips on how to widen your reading.

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