Monday, 16 November 2015

Reading for Writers by Wendy H. Jones

One of my friends gave me a healthy living magazine recently. She passed it on as there were some gluten free recipes that she thought I might like. Inside was a small article extolling the benefits of reading. Seemingly reading can reduce stress levels and prevent anxiety. I am sure all readers knew this anyway but, heck, it's always good to have these things backed up by research. I would have loved to have been one of the subjects for this particular research study. Anyway I digress slightly. 

So what of reading as a writer. I read a blog post this morning which got me thinking about the different ways in which I read. Also the variety of books I read. The first, and I feel more important, way in which I read, is purely as a reader. I read to get enjoyment from the novels written by others. I immerse myself in the story and spend time in another world. I read for enjoyment and the thrill of being swept away by the story. I would have said that I had catholic tastes in reading but I have recently come to realise that I mainly read crime novels. So, following advice that writers should widen their reading, this is my current reading pile.

As I say, I read for pleasure. However, I and most other writers, also read in order to develop the craft of writing. This may mean reading novels, or non fiction books slowly, and taking note of techniques used. This is not just looking for what is good in a book, but also areas where the technique may not be quite as good. I read with a critical eye. I also read books about writing. I have many of these, but here is just a small selection. I am striving to stretch myself as a writer and move forward. I am trying to be the best I can be in order to ensure readers enjoy my books. 

As a writer I am very aware that I am also a business woman. This involves marketing and promoting my books. Now, I am sure you are all aware that this is an important part of the process of writing. Getting the word out in a world which is already full of noise and yet doing so in a way which doesn't spam the heck out of everyone you have ever met. I have a number of books on the topic and again here is just a small selection. These ones have proven to be particularly helpful. 

Last, but not least, I find myself reading for research. Most writers will know that it is the little things which trip you up. Trying to be as accurate as possible, whilst still keeping the reader interested, is a fine balancing act. In one of my books it rained. A lot. Many readers feel, quite rightly, that it did not portray Dundee in the right light. Dundee is the sunniest city in Scotland. It is facts such as this which may ruin a book for a reader. I will point out, however, that I did know this fact. It just rained a lot whilst I wrote the book. I am just raising it as an example. As a crime writer I am more likely to get caught out by forensic details, or the ways in which I kill the victims. Therefore, I do read books on these subjects. Again, here is a small selection. 

I am sure you will all have your own lists of books which you find indispensable as a writer. It would be helpful if you could share them in the comments. This way I may find more great books which should be read by writers. 

I hope you will forgive me mentioning one more book. The Third book in my DI Shona Mckenzie Mysteries, Killer's Cross, is released today. I am excited beyond belief and looking forward to the launch tonight at Waterstones, Dundee. You can find out more on the links below. If you are from the UK you can get signed copies from my website.  I'm even helping you with your Christmas shopping. Thank you for indulging me, and joining in my celebration.

About The Author

Wendy lives, and writes, in Dundee Scotland. Her first book, Killer's Countdown, was published in November, 2014. The second book in the DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries, Killer's Craft, was released on 20th July, 2015. The Third book, Killer's Cross, was released on 16th November, 2015. You can find out more on her:

Amazon Author Page


Jan Needle said...

Great stuff, Wendy, and all the best with the latest. Your reading list shames me, tho. I get slower and slower...

julia jones said...

I'm with Jan -- all I seem to have read recently are Tove Jansson's Mommintrolls and some yachting mags. Oh, and a couple of books on dementia (as if I didn't get enough of it!) HOWEVER I am currently having such a happy time reading one of Bill Kirton's Jack Carston detective novels that I am thrilled to hear of another Scottich tec in Shona Mackenzie. Shall trot of to Amazon forthwith. Have a lovely launch party tonight

Catherine Czerkawska said...

Very interested in your small business books, Wendy. I occasionally binge on this kind of thing and share info with my son, one of whose roles in his company is marketing. I shall investigate! In spite of spending hours each day on writing and related things, I also spend hours each night reading. And I seem to have got faster and faster. I'm reading a couple of novels every week at the moment. I'm a bit of an insomniac, and I couldn't survive without fiction. In fact my next post, on 18th, is all about my latest obsession!

Bill Kirton said...

Strange, my reading seems to have shrunk over the past couple of years. One of the reasons, I think, was being obliged to write reviews. (NB it's the 'being obliged to' not the reviews bit that's having the effect.) If I buy a book because it's been recommended or I trust the author, I can happily read it knowing there's no compulsion for me to underline bits, make marginal notes, etc. It's the difference between 'critical reading' and reading, (which, paradoxically, is what students used to annoy me by saying in tutorials, i.e. 'Why spoil a book by analysing it?').

On the other hand, a friend recently recommended Jonathan Safran Foer's 'Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close' and I enjoyed it so much that I actually wanted to review it but all I really wanted to say was 'This is terrific'. I'm clearly a mess.

Good luck tonight, Wendy. I hope you sell bucketloads.

Oh, and thank you, Julia. I hope Jack Carston's not being too crotchety in the one you're reading.

Fran B said...

The novel I am currently writing has involved a lot of research. I've ended up with a shelf of books on: the Hebrides (where it is set); the history of Jacobinism in Scotland (a Jacobite legend features); stories about Druids (they feature as well); info about lighthouses and their keepers (the protagonist is a 12 year old daughter of a lighthouse keeper); life in the 1920's on a Hebridean island; ferries, boats and early motor transport; etc; etc. Goodness only knows what I'll do with them all once the book is finished. My last novel only needed one 'bible': 'Women at the Wire' (life at Greenham Common peace Camp). The internet did the rest.
I did read a lot of writing manuals when I first started - of mixed use and quite repetitive. I'd rather read a good book!