Saturday, 27 July 2013
Short Story Writer: Reading
When I first started writing I was sad to find that I lost my enjoyment of reading. I couldn't read without engaging my writing brain.
I cured myself of this by an act of will. Before I started reading, I'd think I'm not going to think about characterisation or plot or sentences. I'm just going to enjoy this.
This seemed to work for me. The mind is an amazing thing. I can now decide before I start reading if it's going to be for pleasure, or if I'm going to read with my writerly eye engaged.
But that's by the by. What I wanted to talk about was the difference between reading anthologies (short stories by lots of different authors) and collections (all by the same author).
I am going to heartedly recommend that if you're reading with your writerly eye you try reading a collection. I've recntly discovered that it's much easier to notice elements of style (things that a writer might want to emulate) when you read a body of work by the same author. This is because a short story writer will to a greater or lesser extent have a voice that is common to all her stories.
So that's my advice (and it's very rare, I hardly ever give writing advice). If you're reading to learn stick with the same author for a few stories.
Of course many talented short story writers have published collections. You can also check out your favourite author's website where they often have links to their free online stories.
What's been your experience in reading short stories. Do you find it helpful for your own writing?
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