“Quality over quantity” is such a common mantra, most of all in the business world. I just didn’t expect it to leap over the fence on becoming a better writer.
To be a better writer one has to read…and read well.
Come to think of it, that mantra on quality over quantity is more of a way of living. Let me indulge you why I pointed this out.
I distinctly remember a time when stories were far more important to me than the author’s name. The worlds and characters introduced to me were far more compelling than the person who opened the door or drew the curtain away. Who can blame a young girl? Nobody has informed me early on who wrote many of the children’s tales that I grew up with. Moreover, I used to think that getting through as much books as I could cram in a year means I’m an excellent reader. Thanks to GoodReads I would challenge myself to go through an insane amount.
This all changed now that I want to write good stories and publish quality books. I imagined someday, once my published book sits on one of the shelves in the bookstore, that I would feel a huge sense of satisfaction–not only was a project complete but a world and its characters that I conjured are now open for others to enjoy.
Back to reading, everybody started with this basic step that would pave the way to writing. So when I am sorting the ideas in my head or struggling to convey the thoughts on paper, I would grab a book and read. Then it dawned on me that I should change my way of reading since I often breeze through books by speed reading (chunking and minimizing subvocalization). When I hold back, many of the style of writing becomes more visible.
So I am making a pledge to become a better reader because I want to become a better writer. Here are ways to honor this pledge:
1. Have a Book Journal. Name the book, recognize the author’s name, voice and writing style. Study the point-of-view (POV), the characters and their intentions. Jot it all down.
2. Be receptive to different books. It may be a different genre, unknown author or even the cover of the book that made me hesitate to pick it up but it’s time to keep an open mind. That doesn’t mean I won’t impose an exception to this rule.
3. Highlight what stood out for me. Whether its plot, content, the twists or any quotable phrases that caught my attention, I should take note of it.
4. Be honest in judging the book but not rude. I read to enjoy the book. When the book fails to make it enjoyable it is best to honestly inform others, however, do so with grace and humility. When someone else criticizes the book I publish I’d rather they do the same.
5. Share the book with others. A short review is enough to whet the appetite of a seasoned reader. There is no need to include a whole synopsis of the book or include spoilers. I read a comment recently on someone’s post on a list of good historical fictions where she stated the title of the book, the author and the reason why she is recommending it in just 25 words. It was enough to perk my interest and save it on “to-read” pile.