As I’ve begun to revive my interest in fiction writing, one of the things that I have begun to analyze more closely is how I read other people’s writing, specifically fiction.
This might sound weird at first. “What does how I read have to do with how I write?” Our boy Stevie King always said that the only way that you could be a good writer was to read a lot and write a lot. But how does the way that you read affect how you write? I’ll try to explain this concept as I understand it, or at least how I would define it.
In the photo I included with this post is a book by Jeff Shaara, one of the writers I got interested in several years back. I’d seen the film Gettysburg on TV, then decided to check out his dad Michael Shaara’s book that the film was based on, The Killer Angels. From there, I learned his son was writing a ton of historical fiction books, and I’ve been reading them ever since. Jeff Shaara does historical fiction, almost all of them based on past American wars. It’s a topic I’ve long been interested in, so I was all over those books.
It was just a year or so ago, however, as I started to analyze how I write and put together scenes, that I started examining the writings of other people. I realized how much I skimmed over scenes when I read because the level of detail just bogged me down. Shaara is a pretty good example of that.
What I am trying to do is be more of a writing reader, analyzing how my favorite authors take care of scenes and see if I can incorporate some of those skills in my own work. Although, it has also made me see that maybe I write the way I do because that’s what I prefer in storytelling. If I don’t like to read through massive, overly detailed descriptions, maybe that’s just not my style as a writer.
On a related note, I took one of those “What type of writer are you?” quizzes where you input your writing and they described what writer you most resemble. I took it twice; the first time, it told me I resembled Arthur C. Clarke, and the other time it said I wrote like Agatha Christie. Guess I’ll have to strategically read a few of their books over again…