I haven’t really read any Stephen King books. Don’t shoot me please! It’s just not my favourite genre but he has a lot of great writing advice and tips. This quote caught my eye the other day. Writers are often told to read widely and this is vital to help us write.
I read a blog post the other day and completely failed to take down any of the links but the blogger was talking about an author who was quoted as saying she never read as she was worried she’d end up copying other writers. I don’t understand this. One – I love to read and even if I didn’t write, I couldn’t give up reading. But as I do write, I’m confused by her point of view. I write YA so I read a lot of YA – it helps me to see what else is being published in the genre sure and it helps to understand teens trends etc, but mostly I just enjoy it. Why write something you wouldn’t enjoy reading yourself?
As for the potential to copy, I don’t think there really are original stories anymore – how many books have you read with a love triangle, or a girl who discovers she has supernatural powers, or forbidden love between a human and a creature or boy meets girl, they fall out, then they get back together? The point is to put your own spin, your own voice on a story. I just don’t think it’s possible to write like someone else, because even if you know their writing, you don’t know them. Our environment, our past and our likes and dislikes all shape our stories and unless you knew everything about them, I don’t think you could write the same way and the same story as them.
Plus other writers can be inspiring – their setting or their story might inspire you in an emotional way,might make you want to tap into the same feelings but it doesn’t make you want to write the same exact story. That would be boring and pretty pointless. I’ve read a few YA books that do have some of the same traits and plot lines but they always have a unique plot and new characters, a hook to stand out. They have their own voice.
I think that author is missing out on discovering not only great books to enjoy, but great writing. And every writer should be inspired by great writing – to make their own writing better. Surely that’s the goal of all of us.
So I’m sticking with Stephen on this one. I’d never give up reading. Reading helps my writing. And I love them both too much to do one without the other.
What about you?