“Huh? Read to write?”
Well, yeah. Here are five simple facts about how reading makes your writing better:
- Reading increases your vocabulary. That should speak for itself. But if it doesn’t, let me explain. If you increase your vocabulary you can begin to sound like all of those other authors that seem to write with a thesaurus in hand. But that just sounds pompous and arrogant, right? Yes. It can. But when done right, what it does is adds a little flavor to your work. You might also want to pay particular attention to the metaphors used in their writing. Those things can work wonders.
- Reading allows you to see how the published guys do it. They’re doing something right. What better way to learn from them than reading what they write? I mentioned the metaphors. But what about all the other little tricks you might learn while reading? There’s the rule of “three.” There’s the correct placement of alliteration and what it can do for your words. There are tons of things to learn from other authors.
- Reading sparks ideas. Heck, I was sitting here reading “The Law of Nines” by Terry Goodkind and it sparked the idea to write this post. I was wanting a topic and while I was reading, I noticed a really good metaphor in the book. That made me think of how reading has improved my writing and made me decide to share with you guys.
- Reading improves your grammar. You read it when it is right1 and it sticks. Repetition of anything, also known as practice, helps you get better at just about anything. The problem is how do you repeat something like grammar and know you’re getting it right? You read. You read published books that have already been checked by editors. Sure, they sometimes miss stuff, but it’s a decent education that is much more fun than some of the grammar books out there. Of course, those serve their purposes also, but reading a good fiction novel trumps them in many ways.
- Finally, reading reminds you of what made you want to write to begin with. The love of writing cannot exist unless you’ve read something and enjoyed it. When you first heard “The Cat in the Hat,” you either loved it or hated it, but you couldn’t hate the melody of those words. When you read that first novel that had you gripped form the beginning to the end, you have to remember how exhilarating it was being in the minds of those characters2. Reading shows us what made us fall in love with writing. And it makes us want to write even more.
There you go. 5 great reasons to read if you want to get better at writing. Can you think of anymore? Let me know in the comments.