For Saturdays, you can usually expect there to be some sort of book review up: books that aren’t that heard of or authors who are still struggling to get out there and have their books read. Inkpop and published alike! You won’t find reviews of Twilight or Harry Potter here (no offence to those books). It is my goal to bring interesting, captivating books to the stage. All authors deserve a chance, and sometimes you can seriously find a diamond among rubble. If you look hard enough. So every week I’ll attempt to read a book, review it, and give some insight into it. My job isn’t to tell you if it is a worthy book or not. No, that’s your job. My intentions are simply to give the book a fair inspection and allow the reader to do the rest. I hope to give a different twist on reviews, a twist that leaves the book fresh and mysterious, but also allows you to know beforehand if it is a story that will allow you to live inside it or not.
This week, however, I don’t have a book review ready (cue knowing that Anna is super busy most of the time, hehe). So to kick off today, I simply wanted to leave you with some advice! That’s the other part of Saturdays: offering advice and giving advice to anyone who asks questions (so definitely feel free to ask questions in the comments)! It’s kind of like an advice column.
So. My advice for this week?
Read. Read. It’s summer. This is the best time, when you aren’t in school, to utilize your ability to read, to feel, to comprehend, to live in a book. Whenever we read, the book has the chance to sweep us away into a new world, a place where stress and concern does not exist. Reading not only helps us forget ourselves for awhile, it allows us a safe haven. We follow the story of another person, we sympathize with another person, we laugh and cry and live with another person. Reading opens up the ability to feel for others instead of simply feeling for ourselves. It opens up a world beyond our own personal bubble; it gets underneath our skin. And for any writer, reading is known–proven even–to strengthen writing. The more you read, the better equipped you will be to wield a pen (or a keyboard) and create a haven for others. Reading also shows writers what works and what doesn’t.
Think about it. What last made you cry in a book? What made you laugh? What was it that tugged those heart strings, tickled your fancy, made you so angry you felt the blood rush to your cheeks and wanted to throw the book across the room? When reading makes you come alive like that, you are interacting with that book. You are living it, breathing it. Those characters have become your family, your best friends, the enemies you want revenge upon. This is key for writing! If something makes you so amused that you laugh, so angry that you tremble, so heartbroken that you cry over the pages . . . then the author managed to craft those words in a way where the writing reaches out past fiction and approaches reality.
When this happens, when the writing gets under your skin and invokes those emotions, stop and question why. Dig into the writing on the page before you, figure out why you related to it so much. What was it that made you so breathless with fear that you had to skim pages to find out what happened? If you can figure out what it was, you are on to something golden. Whatever you connected with, it is something that you yourself can use to relate to your own readers through your writing. Not the idea itself, but the emotions lying underneath. You want your readers to relate to the characters, to live in the story and feel everything the main characters can feel.
And one of the best ways to reach that strength of writing…is to read. Read read read.
So challenge yourself! Set a goal to read five books in two weeks, or ten in a month. Perhaps, when you are reading, underline the paragraphs that reach out to you. Take notes. Bookmark those pages. Keep a list, because if your readers cannot relate to your characters…if the writing doesn’t touch them in an emotional way…then it doesn’t matter how strong your writing style is or how outstanding the plot is. The book will become just another book on the shelf, or another trip to the library. You want your books to be unforgettable, and more to the point you want to impact your readers.
So read. :-)