How important is being a reader to writing a book?

I keep seeing posts and questions in Facebook writer’s groups asking if they can still write a book if they don’t read. For a word geek like me, the first reaction is something like, “yeah, but it’ll suck.” But as I have contemplated this question, I realize that that is a rush to judgment.

Of course, being an avid reader since the third grade, it is hard for me to understand the lack of readers in my generation and the generations that have followed. So it shouldn’t be surprising that my reaction is, “Hell No!” For crying out loud, how would you even know how to tell a story? How could you possibly grasp a story arc or in-depth character development?

Once I took a second to actually consider the question further than my initial gut reaction, I realized that is my ego shouting. Who am I to tell anyone that they can’t or shouldn’t write a book? We should be a more supportive group. I also realized that I had never asked the pertinent clarification question: What kind of book are you thinking of writing?

I firmly believe that everyone has a story to tell. Whether a book is the best way to tell it, is up to the individual.

Having said that, I do believe some differentiation is in order. I don’t have factual numbers, but I suspect that a significant number of non-fiction writers weren’t avid readers prior to initial publication. They need to be subject experts or have strong research skills to write a book, but avid reading isn’t a prerequisite. This is also true of autobiographical works, they have a story to tell, it’s their own.

However, if one wants to write genre fiction… I’m simply not sure. Here’s why: how can you write sci-fi/fantasy fiction and connect with readers if you don’t know what they are expecting or what the genre language is? Can it be done? Sure, but I would suggest some binge reading in the genre during the early days of scene and character development. This is a good suggestion for all genres.

Photo by Bich Tran from Pexels

So, yes, I believe you can write your book or novel, but strongly recommend spending some time learning what those books in your niche generally do. It does NOT mean that you have to follow those trends, but you should have an awareness of what readers of a given genre expect.

In today’s world, with publishing houses being much less of an issue, anyone can write anything and get it published. But make sure that you are aware of your target audience as you write.

#Read #Write #Everyday

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