In order to write believable stories, writers must read widely in that same age group and genre. Are you writing Young Adult Fantasy? Then you better be reading every YA Fantasy you can get your hands on, mostly from the last five years. That’s a publishing truth and it’s not debatable. Reading books will help you improve your writing craft. It will also help to develop your understanding of language and how it is used to engage readers. But reading specifically in your genre takes those benefits a few steps further.
You’ll learn how to write dialogue that’s current and believable. You’ll discover how to perfect your own voice and style of writing. You’ll notice the subtle similarities that almost all books in your genre share. It’s also the best way to observe industry trends in what’s being published.
I write middle grade fiction. That means I read a lot of middle grade fiction. My books straddle the line between magical realism and science fiction so over the past ten years, I’ve read a lot of both. I continue to read middle grade books even now because I constantly learn from each one. My current WIP leans more toward middle grade science fiction so lately I’ve been reading as much science fiction for kids ages 8-12 that I can.
Knowing that other writers are doing the same thing— has me wondering. Do they love to read these books for pleasure or is it merely to help improve their craft? Or is it a little of both?
Middle Grade fiction is truly my favorite age group to write for. There’s something magical about that time period of childhood. I honestly can’t imagine writing for any other group. That’s one of the reasons I love reading middle grade books too. They’re special and it never feels like work to read them.
However, when I pick up a book to read just because, it’s usially not middle grade. It’s almost always YA. And I love it all…dystopian, contemporary, fantasy, magical realism, romance, science fiction, historical fiction. It really doesn’t matter. I have my favorites in each one. They’re my go-to books, my escape from my daily life, which includes writing middle grade stories. So for me, it’s more about age group, not necessarity genre. I read a lot of middle grade across all genres and I also read a lot of YA across all genres. Case in point, I just finished reading the most amazing YA historical novel, THE PAPER GIRL OF PARIS by Jordan Taylor. It’s dual POV set in current America and also in Paris during the German invasion of France during WWII. It is easily one of the best books I’ve read! Now, I’m reading a fun, Victorian middle grade magical realism adventure, WISHES AND WELLINTONS by Julie Berry. It’s about a girl and a genie. Another excellent book. See what I mean?
But still, I’m wondering. Do other writers feel the same way? Do they prefer to read books that are outside the age group and genre they write in? If you’re a writer, feel free to weigh in. I’m curious to know!
Thanks for checking in. I hope you have a fantastic week! And until next time…cheers to writing, reading, and time to do both!