Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Reading to be a Better Writer

I've read rather a lot of books lately to help with Bishop's Move (WIP).


A lot of writing advice centres on reading loads, and writing loads. It made a lot of sense to me, and I made sure I read plenty of books out of genre too. However, the books I read out of my usual genre, whilst they have broadened my horizons, didn't help me as much as the books that fell within the genre that I want to write in. I think that I need to read maybe 5 books in my genre and 1 book out of genre. Seems like a good ratio to me anyway!

The books that really helped me to kick things off, and these were the first books I read in genre for quite a while, were Jeff Somers' The Electric Church and The Digital Plague. Excellent books. I picked these up as they had a strong religious element. (Nothing like Phillip Pullman's books.) no, these were where a cult had a very strong, menacing influence, and in Bishop's Move there is a strong religious movement, that gains momentum through the 3 book series I have planned.

Then I picked Stealing Light by Gary Gibson, simply because I fancied it and because it is Space Opera, and I haven't read Space Opera for ages.

Next up was another fancied Space Opera in Old Man's War by John Scalzi. He's a new(ish) author and one who has made a quite few waves with his books so far. It was inevitable I would read them at some point, and they had been on my radar for quite a while, so it was a book that I wanted to read sooner rather than later.

Finally, the last book I picked up was Jack Campbell's The Lost Fleet - Dauntless. I wanted this because I have a few space battle scenes and it seemed logical to read some Military Science Fiction. It certainly helped and I certainly enjoyed it.

Next (still waiting for this one) is The Prefect by Alastair Reynolds. I've been putting off buying this for a while because it has been described as a detective novel in space. Not my kind of thing, and because it is Hard Sci-Fi. Now, I kinda enjoyed the Red Mars and Green Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson, but some of the similes he used made me go 'ugh' and 20 pages of rock collecting? That was a bit too much, although I will read Blue Mars just for completion's sake.

Hopefully, The Prefect will come soon. I'm looking forward to it for loads of reasons.

1. Alastair Reynolds is Welsh - yeah I know that's kinda childish, but hey, who cares?
2. The detective stuff should help me with parts of Bishop's Move because my protagonist has to do quite a bit of detective work himself.
3. I get all excited when I buy a book (yeah I know that's kinda childish too, but it makes me happy!) especially when it's a book that's going to give me something to noticeably help me with my own writing.

On the radar for me at the moment is John Scalzi's follow up Old Man's War - Ghost Brigades. Year of the Hyenas: A Novel of Murder in Ancient Egypt by Brad Geagley, and if I like that, Day of the False King: A Novel of Murder in Babylon. Also, Troy: Shield of Thunder and Troy: Fall of Kings by David Gemmell.

I love anything to do with the Ancient Greeks and the Trojan War, and I have an ulterior motive for reading the 2 books by Brad Geagley because Nathan Bransford is his agent. Apparently it’s quite a good idea to read books that have been represented by a prospective agent to get a feel on whether to query them or not.

You’ll notice there is a lot of Historical Fiction in there. One of the benefits of reading out of genre is discovering new genres that you enjoy, and Historical Fiction is definitely a genre that I thoroughly enjoy.

So, these are the books I've enjoyed recently, what have you enjoyed?

Anyone care to comment on what books have helped them with their writing, and why?

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