Before you start writing, read everything possible in your genre. If you want to write mysteries, then first read all the great mystery authors. If you write historical romance or contemporary romance, read up on those. Be entirely familiar with trends in fiction, what works, and what’s selling–even if only to decide that you don’t want to write something mainstream. Be knowledgeable and well-read–and not only in your genre. Read the classics of literature; perhaps some of those novels you never covered in high school or college. It’s a good idea to be a very well-rounded reader if you’re going to be a writer.
Then, when you do begin writing your own book, stop reading other novels in your genre. You don’t want your work to be flavored by something you may have read, or influenced by another author’s line of thought. If someone is writing fiction, I suggest reading nonfiction, or at least fiction that is entirely different from what you’re working on.
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Leslie Wells has edited forty-nine New York Times bestsellers in her thirty-year publishing career. She is the author of Come Dancing, a novel about publishing and rock and roll, set in New York City in the 1980s. Visit her at www.lesliewellsbooks.com
CC Photo: Miss Auras by John Lavery