Friday, July 24, 2009

Write What You Want to Read

The title says it all: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. In the writing universe, write something that you would want to read; write a novel that you would want to buy and have on your shelf.

This is easier said than done, as with nearly everything else on earth. As writers, we often find ourselves so immersed in our stories that we forget our own wishes, our own needs, and our own tastes as readers. When we start reading again, we find ourselves picking up books, reading them, and then exclaiming, “I could have done better than this!”

Well, you can, and you should, dear writer. As you read, examine the words that your eyes gloss over, and critically read what the author is trying to tell you. Is the author doing a good job, or can you do it better? And better yet, how could you do a better job than the author? What would you do? Remember everything that you say as you read and critique a book, because you have to be true to your own expectations and your own promises.

As you write, keep in mind the reminder that you, too, are a reader; and that you, too, want to be captivated. As you edit your work, be critical enough to see if you are reading something that you want to read and lose yourself in. If you want to tear your work to pieces, and if you don’t like what you are reading, then be merciless: edit and hack and pare and cut until you come up with a product that you would love to read.

Write something that you would read. Enjoy what you write. Have a great story. There are many paths to being a great writer, and remembering that you are a reader is only one of them.

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