1. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    The Role of Reading in Writing.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Elgaisma, Dec 24, 2010.

    What role has your reading played in your writing ?
    Do you see Reading and Writing as equally important skills?
     
  2. Agreen
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    Agreen Faceless Man Contributor

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    Put simply, reading a good book provides inspiration, and an example of good writing.

    Being a good reader doesn't make you a good writer, but because reading skills can help you gather information that can benefit your craft, I think it would be very difficult to become a good writer without being a good reader.
     
  3. Eunoia
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    Eunoia Contributing Member Contributor

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    I do see reading and writing as equally important when being a writer. I think being a total bookworm myself has helped my writing a great deal.

    Like Agreen, I think it would be hard to become a good writer without being a good reader.
     
  4. Noya Desherbanté
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    Noya Desherbanté Senior Member

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    Reading and writing is so inexorably linked, in my opinion, that one would find it very hard to be good at one over the other... even vice versa, because if you have some experience with writing, reading a good book opens up a whole new level of devices and tricks the author employed that you can recognise, learn from and admire.

    I sometimes feel like my style's slipping due to some outside influence (being around fellow college students can sometimes leave your vocabulary withered like a shrunken voodoo head...), and when that happens I pick up a book - I read hardly any recent fiction, it's all 1950's backwards for me... and that helps remind me of words and structures I'd forgotten, or sometimes I even get inspiration for a plot from another.

    I don't read half as much as I want to... :dead:
     
  5. Show
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    I see reading as a tool among many for a writer. I find it's use much more limited than most others though. Not saying it's useless, I just feel that it's given me limited benefit. It's a source of inspiration, one among many. And if reading helps a writer, I say read as much as you can. I just don't feel it's as useful for everybody as it is for some, or even most.

    Writing has likely increased my interest in reading dramatically. If anything, writing has made me a better reader, not the other way around. Readings helped me a little but I've ultimately found it little more useful than any other source of inspiration. I know it's an unpopular view; just speaking personally. Some things just don't work for everyone.
     
  6. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I think it goes without saying that they are interlinked paradigms. One is the counterpart and the complement of the other.

    I have seen people post that they don't like reading yet they wish to be writers. I have no capacity to understand this sentiment.
     
  7. Show
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    ^^^^I understand it completely. xD
     
  8. FrankABlissett
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    FrankABlissett Active Member

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    Huge role in my poetry.

    The rhythms of Coleridge are a constsant force in my thoughts. Many, many times I have found myself drawing on his poetry to get me through a bit of block.

    -Frank
     
  9. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    It's hard to write a good novel if you've never read one. If you've never read a good novel, how do you know what one is?

    Can one play a violin well if one has never heard a good violinist play? How would you know what it's supposed to sound like?

    Besides all that, why would you want to write a novel unless you're a fan of reading them? Why would you want to participate in an art form you don't love? That's a strange mindset to me. I sing and play guitar because I like music and I like listening to it. I write stories because I like reading them. I don't paint, but I don't much like looking at paintings, either. I create music and fiction because I love them; I don't participate in arts I have no affinity for.
     
  10. Show
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    ^^^^I think one writes because they have a love of storytelling, which doesn't necessarily mean they are novel obsessed.

    Also, having never heard a violin seems to be a bit of a stretch as even somebody who is not an avid reader has still likely read quite a bit. Most of us who have gone through school have read "great" novels(whatever that means :p ). I think it'd be hard to reach adulthood and successfully graduate without having read quite a bit. I think the question is what role reading has in developing a writer. I think it's less the art of the novel that drives most writers but the art of creating a story. And I think just about every writer, avid reader or not, will have a love for a good story(even if said story is not in book form).

    I think most writers will also have favorite novels as well. Reading just plays less a role with some authors than others. It's not like it's an all or nothing thing where you're reading constantly or you've never picked up a book in your life.
     
  11. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Wait, wait, wait. No one said one had to read novels.

    And I quote:

    At no time did she use the word novel. The OP's question is concerned of the act of reading as a paradigm, not a specific kind of reading.
     
  12. Show
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    Then it's even more on to my point as excluding novels, we read a lot on a regular basis. We read to even post in this forum. So that makes the "never read before" idea a little bit siller. We all read, a lot.
     
  13. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    The biggest role.

    Reading gave me the inspiration to write, an understanding of writing techniques, and gifted me with a decent-sized vocabulary from which to draw from.

    Thank you, good books. :)
     
  14. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    No. Now you are taking the point to the other extreme. Your train of logic would give rise to the idea that reading the installation manuel for my new Bluray player somehow constitutes an erudite expedition into the English language.
     
  15. Show
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    Not what I am saying at all. I am merely refuting the idea that we don't read. We read, and most of us have read books. So the idea that somebody hasn't ever picked up a book is just unrealistic. That was the only point I was making. Don't assume it's my "train of logic."
     
  16. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Most have read books granted. But the more important thing imo is whether the reader actually takes something away from it.

    From experience, I think many don't.

    A large percentage even in my English Lit class tried to get through many of the books on the reading list as fast as possible, with as much moaning as possible, and constant complaints of how boring they were. These were supposed 'fans' of literature.

    Many people don't read much at all, if they don't have to.
     
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  17. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Complete agreement. There is the mechanical exercise and there is reading with intent. The two should not be confused for they are but the most distant of kin.
     
  18. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sadly, I have come across a few writers who only read "how to write" books by authors and editors, etc. But they shun other books, classics, in their favored genre, nonfiction for background, etc. Why? They don't have time to read is the main excuse.

    Writing a novel is at its essence, storytelling. And you can learn a lot about storytelling by how others do it--successful storyteller. You can learn about characterization, pacing, plot development, POV, dialogue--you name it by carefully observing.

    I recommend reading a novel for enjoyment and then going back and studying it, for why, in your opinion, it worked--and if you're struggling in an area, say description, see how that successful author did it, and apply the lesson. Don't copy, but modify to your style and needs.

    Yes, reading does take time, but so does writing poorly and never going anywhere with it. Avoiding one activity that can improve where one is lacking seems kind of short sighted.
     
  19. Show
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    Well, that's true of a lot of people; that's true of most of us. But if you don't take something away from stories ever, you probably don't want to write.

    I think we can all take away something from a book we enjoyed. We just all have different tastes and thus some may just be unable to take something away from some books in particular, but can find much value in others.
     
  20. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I'm sorry, but it is unfathomable to me that anyone who genuinely wants to write would not also want to read as much as possible, at least if they have any realistic expectation of success.
     
  21. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ...reading the best of the best has made me a good writer... reading lesser works taught me the difference...

    ...to be a good writer one must first be a good and constant reader...
     
  22. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Reading is writing, if you're doing it right.
     
  23. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Hah, yep.

    I get flak of course because I point out that if someone doesn't have the time to read, then they surely don't have the time to write (well, at least).

    The other excuse I hear from 'writers' is they don't read while they're writing because what they're reading interferes with the 'voice' of the writer. Gah, more tough lessons: probably not ready to be a dedicated writer if you can't still be a reader.
     
  24. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    huh?
     
  25. Noya Desherbanté
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    Noya Desherbanté Senior Member

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    What popsicledeath means, I think, mamma, is that a good writer reconstructs and analyses the material when they read - they take it apart and learn from it without thinking, and absorb inspiration and plot ideas on the way.

    That's what I took from it. :D
     

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