Forums › Fiction › General Writing Discussions › Controversial Opinion: “Reading makes your writing better” is bad advice › Reply To: Controversial Opinion: “Reading makes your writing better” is bad advice
I am veeeeeeeery late to this conversation (kept seeing it in my inbox and thinking “I’ll read and respond to that later”… bad habit), but it was super fun to read through!
I’ve actually written a blog post about what readers “ought to” read, but I’ll just give a quick summary of my thoughts here. XD I think that reading should be an endeavor undertaken out of a genuine desire to read and take in story and information, not one we go into because we feel obligated to read. But reading of many sorts can be quite beneficial to writers! Reading within your genre (in fiction) gives you an understanding of the genre’s expectations and popular tropes, allowing you to fulfill or subvert those expectations as desired. Reading outside of your genre (in fiction) allows you to absorb story patterns not found in your usual genre, which you can then apply to the genre you’re writing to put your own unique spin on your genre. Different genres also have different focal points, often, such as character relationships in contemporary or tense pacing in thrillers, which are nevertheless applicable to whatever genre you want them to be. In either case (whether reading within or outside of your genre), you can either analyze consciously or learn subconsciously and either will still strengthen your writing (likely to differing degrees depending on your own learning style). You should avoid reading in your own genre if you know you’re prone to adopt too much of what you read into your own work and create a “copy” (as much as a story by another human with different background and interests can be a copy), and obviously you shouldn’t read outside your genre if you don’t enjoy the other genre, as per my initial stipulation that reading should be enjoyable.
Just as familiar and unfamiliar genres can both be useful, so can both fiction and non-fiction. While fiction strengthens your understanding of story and its elements, non-fiction contributes knowledge that can be woven into your writing and worldbuilding and strengthen your writing that way. If you’re reading non-fiction you enjoy, it will also be on topics you enjoy which, if they make it into your writing, will shape your stories and voice in ways that make it even more unique to you. No one has the exact same combination of interests as you do, so no one will tell exactly the same stories as you will if you incorporate what you’re passionate about outside of writing.
I’m not sure who that puts me in agreement with or disagreement with, but there are my two cents. XD
Fantasy/dystopian/sci-fi author. Mythology nerd. Worldbuilding enthusiast. Singer. Fan of classic literat