Many new authors ask, “What's the first thing I can do to become a better writer?” Maybe they expect the answer to be a closely guarded secret, magical advice that will create an instant best seller, advice that, when heard, is an illumination. The real answer to that question is not nearly so exciting. Many famous authors suggest that the one thing every writer needs to do first is…wait for it…READ! Stephen King gives this advice often. You need to read! Make that your mantra. It's also a good idea to focus your reading on the genre you want to write. If you want to write mysteries, then read mysteries. If you want to write romances, then read romances. Read a lot of them and then read some more. The more you read, the more you learn what works and what doesn't. Reading subconsciously trains your mind to learn the format of a novel.
I once heard author Barry Zeman, co-author of Writing Mysteries: a handbook by the Mystery Writers of America, speaking in New York at an MWA meeting and he made a very good point on this. He said that to really understand how an author gets a novel to work on all levels you need to read the book straight through from beginning to end four times in a row. That's right, four times. Sounds tedious but, believe me, by the fourth time you've read it you'll understand how the author accomplishes his/her formula and how he/she put the book together. Zeman was quoting the late Lee Wright, influential mystery editor for Simon & Schuster and Random House, who published Ira Levin’s best-selling novel Rosemary’s Baby among other greats. Make sure you know your genre and the rest will follow suit.
Writing is a never ending learning process and you gotta’ start somewhere. So think of the one book you've read and loved that you wish you had written. Now go read it three more times.
-Lee Wright obit w/bio
-Stephen King advice
-Mystery Writers of America
posted by Robert Daniher, NJ author
-interviews with Robert Daniher on this blog