1. heyharris1
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    heyharris1 Senior Member

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    is this hurting my writing.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by heyharris1, Jun 19, 2008.

    hello, i read on here alot to become a beter writer you need to read... alot.
    my problem is i can only read one type of book, fantasy fiction. IE. lord of the rings, shannara series, medieval fantasy.

    comedy, cant read it. get bored and put it down. detective type books.nope. almost any book that is not fantasy i make it no more than probably 20 pages and just cant force myself to read.

    Will it make me a beter fantasy writer since thats all i seem to be able to do., about reading ive read probably a library worth of fantasy books, i have no problem reading. i just cant read other stuff.
    jim
     
  2. Klee
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    Klee Contributing Member

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    It's not that the quantity of what you read, it's the quality.
     
  3. heyharris1
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    heyharris1 Senior Member

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    correct, but if you only read one style is that going to hurt your writing style.
     
  4. Becca D
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    Becca D Member

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    If you plan on writing mainly fantasy, then reading almost only fantasy won’t hurt your style.

    However, while there is a lot of variety within the fantasy genre, you will eventually reach a point where reading only fantasy is not helping you improve, either. (Keep in mind that in order to improve your writing, though, you have to actually write, and no amount of reading will help you improve if you never practice writing.)

    If you want to expand into writing/reading other genres, I’d look for in-between books. You could read sci-fi fantasy, which could help you ease into sci-fi, which could eventually turn into mystery, and so on and so forth. Branching out into books that aren’t all-out fantasy can help you get into other genres. A few I like: Eaters of the Dead (or 13th Warrior – same book, different titles, and it’s a retelling of Beowulf), Heir Apparent, Beauty (actually a retelling of Beauty and the Beast and written by Robin McKinley).

    Also, try reading from a lot of different authors and time periods, whether it’s mainly fantasy or not. That will expose you to many different styles of writing. That’s my opinion, anyway. :)
     
  5. InkDancer
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    InkDancer Senior Member

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    If you're interested in broadening your reading preferences, try reading stories that are still fantasy, but on the borderline with other genres. Try Sorcery and Cecelia and the books that followed it for a Regency-style epistolary novel which also happens to be a compelling fantasy. Or my personal favorite, Johnathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, which is definitely a fantasy but also credible literature.

    Try Terry Pratchett's Discworld series, which is both comedy and fantasy. Or Steven Brusts Khaavren Romances and Vlad Taltos books, set in the same universe in two different eras. The Khaavren Romances are written in the style of Alexandre Dumas' Three Musketeers.

    There's a lot of good fantasy literature out there that takes inspiration from other genres. Explore the ones you like, and you might find an interest you didn't know you had!
     
  6. Undefined
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    I would not say that it is hurting your writing but it may be limiting it. There are some very good ideas that previous posters have stated.

    To add my two cents* , I would say that the best thing you could do would be to branch out. Only fantasy? Great, read every fantasy book you can get you hands on and try to stay away from reading just one author. Everyone has their favorites but try to mix it up, get a rotation going that way you can absorb as much as possible.

    Find a second hand book store. Those places are gold mines for out of print books and hard to find gems for the early works, plus they are sometimes a little easier on the wallet.

    Hope that helps.

    *Notice, due to inflation, it is now 5 cents.
     
  7. Honorius
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    Honorius Active Member

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    "Eaters of the Dead (or 13th Warrior – same book, different titles, and it’s a retelling of Beowulf)"
    just so you know its not a retelling of Beowulf. Not by a long shot (Beowulf: some dude fights off dragons and half trolls. Eaters of the Dead: Some Arab dude that helps a bunch of norsmen [vikings] fight off cannibalistic Neanderthals) and it can't really be considered fantasy because its a recount of the arabs story (he said it happened) plus its by Micheal Crichton... he never does fantasy. only thriller, techno-thriller, and sci-fi.

    anyways. I don't see only reading fantasy as a problem. that is if you read good quality fiction and fictions that focus on different writing aspects (characterization, Milieu (the world its set in), idea, and event). in other words if the stories you read only focus on events (the whole story revolves around events that happen) then you wont have a feel for proper characterization or world development.
     
  8. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    HeyHarris1 / Jim,

    I do believe that limiting yourself to reading only fantasy will in the end limit your ability to write fantasy.

    Reading nonfiction would be useful. History, be it governmental, military, social, medieval society focused...certainly those would help. Understanding metallurgy, sword making, military tactics would be useful. Ecology, biology, chemistry, physics (even when magic dominates over science in the story) would be helpful. I can expand upon these ideas if it isn't readily clear.

    Maybe trying cross genre first (as was touched upon above). Reading a quality mystery or horror would help. If not reading for pure enjoyment, read to learn from it...elements that you can employ in your fantasy works.

    One of the greatest assets a writer can bring to their work is imagination and great story ideas. But so much of that inspiration and idea generating power comes from experience and background knowledge. Reading only fantasy limits that potential, no question about it.

    Terry
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The wider the variety of authors and genres you read, the more variety in writing styles you will be exposed to.

    That translates into providing alternatives to choose among in your own writing. When you see how each style has its strengths and drawbacks, it helps you make intelligent writing choices.

    It may help you avoid the pitfall of, "I think I'll do it this way, because it's different." The more you read, the more you will see why certain writing styles just don't work well, in addition to seeing ones that do.
     
  10. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I would say, no, but you ARE limiting your self to the one genre and thus not giving you as many writers you can enjoy.
    I am a writer of Horror storeys, Yet I'll happily read Ian Irvine (Fantasy) Tom Clancy (Techo Thriller) Thomas Pynchon (Mystery/Historical Fiction) and Dalton Thumbro.

    All are truly amazing writers.
     
  11. heyharris1
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    heyharris1 Senior Member

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    thanks for all the responses. quess its time to force myself to expand. only if for the reason to learn.
    jim
     
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    If only for the reason to learn? What better reason can there be!
     
  13. Becca D
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    Becca D Member

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    Actually, it is a retelling. Michael Crichton himself says that he based it off the tale of Beowulf in an attempt to prove that Beowulf is an exciting story that’s worth reading, if you get past the way it’s written and down to the nitty-gritty of what actually goes on (read the afterward; it explains a lot). Just to draw on some of the main corresponding parts: Buliwyf is the leader, the sword he carries is called Runding, and he battles the wendol and eventually kills the mother of the wendol. ;)

    And it is a fantasy, because it is based on a myth. Just because it’s written like it really happened (complete with fake bibliographies and “author’s notes”) does not make it any less a fantasy than the original tale itself. :) Which is why I recommend it: it’s different from most fantasy writings. It helps you bridge out while not losing the sense of the genre.

    As a side note: it’s good to force yourself to read things even if you don’t want to sometimes. I’ve found that once I get past the beginning of a book, even if the beginning is horribly slow, it starts to pick up. Of course, that’s not always true, but you might be surprised if you read a book outside your comfort zone the whole way through as to just how interesting it really is. :)
     
  14. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Reading a book that you don't like can be very instructive as well. Put some thought into figuring out exactly why you don't like it. At the same time, see if there are some things you grudgingly have to admit worked well, and that you should add to your writing repertoire.
     
  15. SkyBlueSky
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    SkyBlueSky New Member

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    In my opinion, this definately hurts your writing. Forget about genres...you are missing out on critical sentence structure, word usage, and other aspects of language by reading just one type of genre.

    You having nothing to gain, but everything to lose by being one dimensional.
     
  16. Sato Ayako
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    Sato Ayako Contributing Member

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    This is definitely hurting your writing. In order to be a really good writer, you need to read a little bit of everything. Whenever people ask me what type of stuff they should read, I tell them to start in the classics section of the bookstore and work their way up to more modern authors. Read adventure, war, comedy, science fiction, historical, romance, everything. Read the back of cereal boxes, advertisements (these will be especially important when you start writing query or cover letters), the labels on drug scrips.

    Whether you realize it or not, fantasy takes its roots from many different sources. It comes from myths, legends, history, etc. It revels in lyrical language that you best find in really old books such as the Odyssey or Bhagavad-Gita.

    When I was young, the only books I would read were books about wolves. It couldn't be werewolves or people who shapeshifted into wolves. It had to be straight up about wolves. My mother began to fear that I'd stunt my growth as a reader and writer, so she started forcing me to read classics. From there, I started reading a little bit of everything. I've read about galaxies and medieval castles; genetic mutations and the War of the Roses. I've read a bit of everything from the anonymous author(s) of the Epic of Gilgamesh to Nietzche's Thus Spake Zarathustra and beyond.

    I think it's just you aren't quite passionate about reading yet because you haven't gotten a taste of everything out there. You may have to start forcing yourself to read books you don't like. To make it easier, choose books that will help you expand your knowledge of styles or that directly or indirectly affect your fantasy writing.

    For example, did you know that fantasy writing tends to be wordier while science fiction is a lot terser? Did you know British writing is often a lot more omniscient and complicated than American writing is? These types of things are important to know because the more you know, the more you can apply to your writing, and the better writer you'll be.

    For a start, I recommend fantasy books that aren't really fantasy but will still help you with the transition: Alexandre Dumas' Three Musketeers series, Miguel de Cervantes Don Quixote de la Mancha, Alice Borchardt's the Silver Wolf, and Herman Melville's Moby Dick. (Moby Dick is a little dull but the final chapter makes all the build up worth it. Read it and you'll see how you might convey a ton of information but still keep your readers going to the climax.) Also try most of Ray Bradbury's stories. I think you'd enjoy the Halloween Tree. Also read The Last Mimsy by Henry Kuttner, it should be an anthology of some of his best stories.

    If any of these interest you, expand. Take risks. Ken Kesey and Ernest Hemingway are pretty decent. If you don't want to spend the money, go to a used bookstore or the library. Close your eyes at a shelf, let your finger fall on a book, and read it through, no matter how painful.

    Also read about fantasy things. Read about the development of language, castles, horses, physiology (for those fantastical creatures), war, politics, blacksmithing, agriculture, etc. If anything really interests you, read more on it. The more you read outside of your comfort zone, the easier it will get. As you're reading, decide what it is about the book you do and don't like. Reflect on the style (in the case of fiction), the characters, and everything in between.

    I'll probably be hit with rotten fruit for this, but also, read a little Shakespeare. The man was a genius at inter-and intra-character relations. Some of the best choices are Romeo and Juliet, a Comedy of Errors, Hamlet, and Macbeth. Stay away from The Henry VI series, though. It's pretty dull.

    I feel kind of guilty for what might be considered thread necromancy and I feel bad for finding this thread in the first place. I get really passionate about people who read only one kind of book and not a bunch of others. Then again, I also live in an error where the rate of illiteracy or near-illiteracy is jaw-dropingly high. Sorry!
     
  17. BillyxRansom
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    BillyxRansom Active Member

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    I'm not sure if this has been said yet, so I might be echoing a response, (and the main reason I didn't go through all the posts is because I would forget what I was going to post if I did that) but honestly, there are a lot of books of different genres who have taken cues from the Fantasy fiction. There are certain elements in every novel which hold true, in fact are absolutely essential. Like flow, Start - Middle - End, but there are other, more specific things, I can't think of any now, but I notice a lot of similarities between different genres of Novels. Hope that helps. :)
     
  18. Amor
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    Amor Member

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    I think that by just sticking to reading only one genre of books, you are limiting the...how do I say it?...uniqueness in your writing. You're not open to other genres, and so your writing might become boring if there's no inspiration of humor or whatever else there may be that readers are looking for. However, I could be completely wrong. You might want to add humor in your writing and be able to as much as the next person; I'm not going to judge the way you do/will write if I've never read a piece of your writing before.

    So, I guess it could hurt your writing, but it depends on your writing skill and potential, I suppose.

    Good luck =)
     

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