As a writer should you read? This is an often discussed subject in my writing group; there are often a few who think it isn’t necessary. Yet when I see well known authors commenting about writing invariably they will talk about who their favorite authors are. It’s a clue isn’t it? King, Koontz, Patterson, etc. are readers.
I often wonder how those who are writing current fiction (but even non-fiction) can keep up with the trends that are attracting readers. I read across a wide spectrum of genres and still enjoy reading a classic on occasion. I recently read Pride and Prejudice and although I don’t care for the narrative style of that time I still appreciate Jane Austen for giving us a window into her world.
However, if you are going to capture an audience of readers and you are writing in a certain genre you need to be reading in that genre. It’s also important I think not to get too stuck reading in one genre because they are techniques in other genres that may be helpful in yours. Also to keepers readers interested it is good to have a little romance in a mystery and a little mystery in romance, etc.
I also think it is important to read poetry because poets are definite wordsmiths and if a writer can master being a good wordsmith they can attract a bigger audience. Do I read Stephen King because I like to be scared, definitely, Do I appreciate how he uses words to create a feeling most definitely.
Poets are masters at saying much with few words. Read a little haiku if you doubt it. Even longer pieces like a sestina or a sonnet are one page but can tell us the story on that one page. I once had a friend who said a novel was the easiest thing to write, a short story was a little harder but a poem was the most difficult and of poetry a haiku is the biggest challenge how do you convey a thought in seventeen syllables.
I include this senryu (much like a haiku just a difference in subject matter). What story does it tell?
ten past ten my son
time to put away youthful toys
welcome manhood’s joys
So must authors read? I say yes, yes, yes.