Tag Archives: writing

Authors Answer 135 – Authors’ Biggest Failures

Everyone fails at something. I failed to post the Authors Answer for the last two weeks. But I was on a trip in Japan. Since we are talking about writing, authors tend to have plenty of failures, right? That’s what we’re talking about. How bad can it get?

Question 135 – What is your biggest writing failure?

H. Anthe Davis

If you mean the piece I did worst on, I’d say my Book 1. Even after years and years of development, I still feel like I pushed it out too early, with several issues still unresolved. I just really wanted to get it out there, and ignored some critique in order to do so. I’ve since gone back and amended that, and will be republishing the book soon, but I still wish I’d waited. If you mean my biggest writing failing, as in what I do badly… I think I try too much to end sections with zingers, and use too many over-complex sentences and dashes. I always go and cut some of that up when I do edits.

Paul B. Spence

I have a lot of ideas, and tend to start a lot of different projects at once. I’m not sure if it is a failure or a good thing. Let me explain: I have dozens of novels started. Some of them are in my head, others written down in part. Not finishing them before starting a new one is something of a failure. I’d like to get them all written eventually, I just keep coming up with more…

Jean Davis

Oh my, there are so many to pick from. Generally, I’d say it’s probably my lack of planning. It’s about a 50/50 whether that works out or not as my novel works in progress folder will attest to. While I’ve managed to turn a couple of those floundering projects around, there are a few others that I just plain have no idea how to fix/finish/rescue from their current state of massive suck. They started out as good ideas, but then fell apart. Does this mean I’ll take up planning to solve this failing? Maybe in baby steps, but I’m rather set in my ways.

D. T. Nova

Taking at least 5 years to finish one novel, I guess.

Otherwise I haven’t really done enough to have major successes or failures.

Beth Aman

Wow, this is a tough one. I​ wouldn’t say it’s a failure, necessarily – more of a learning process. I finally retired an old manuscript, realizing I had better stories to tell, better characters to create. But it was my first ​completed novel, and​ I had put so much work into editing and ‘perfecting’ it, so it was really hard to let go of it. Now, I somewhat regret that I spent so much time ​editing, ​writing query letters​,​ and worrying​ about publishing it, when I am now no longer trying to get it published.​ But honestly, I learned a ton from the whole process, so I don’t think I can call that a failure.​

Tracey Lynn Tobin

I don’t know if I’ve really done enough to consider any particular thing a “failure”, exactly. I submitted a story to a publisher once and was rejected, but I’d hardly call one rejection a failure. I entered NYC Midnight’s Short-Short Story Competition and got knocked out in the second round, but I was competing against lots of awesome writers and I did manage to make it through the first round, so I wouldn’t call that a failure either.

If I’m going to call any part of my writing career thus far a “failure”, I’d probably go with my self-marketing, or lack thereof. I find it extremely difficult to market and promote myself, and even when I do give it a go I’m really, really bad at it, and as a result my book sales thus far have been fairly abysmal. I’ve got some awesome reviews, and everyone who does read both of my available books tells me that they loved them, but I consistently fail to promote myself and actually get people finding the books.

Elizabeth Rhodes

This is uncomfortable for me to admit. Jasper was not as great as I’d hoped. And after taking another look at it, I’d decided it needed more work. I lost confidence in myself and haven’t done much since. I’m currently working on getting that creative energy back, but losing it in the first place definitely counts as my biggest failure.

C E Aylett

I honestly don’t know. I mean, I’m sure I have a back catalogue of poor stories form when I was starting out, but I wouldn’t call them failures if they were part of the learning process. I suppose I don’t think in terms of ‘failure’ — every time I do something to do with my writing, be that creating the story, submitting the story, having it critiqued, researching it, redrafting it, or whatever, I count it as progress.

Gregory S. Close

My biggest failure is not writing consistently. Despite all good intentions, I’m not producing word count. That’s the worst failure because even writing poorly at least provides something to edit/improve.

Eric Wood

My biggest writing failure is not writing. have a few ideas for some children’s books. Those ideas sit patiently waiting in a notebook. One has been there for a few years now. What’s holding me back? Fear of rejection? Fear of success? All of the above? I have been writing my blog, but zero fiction.

Jay Dee Archer

What can I say about this? I haven’t published anything yet, and my biggest failure is probably not writing enough. I need to be able to spend time writing without any interruptions. My inconsistency make it difficult for me to write anything that has flow. I really need to work on this.

How about you?

If you’re an author, what’s your biggest failure? Let us know in the comments section below.

Authors Answer 134 – Are Authors Organised?

Are authors organised? Many authors take notes, but not all do. Some authors have colour-coded pens, post-it notes, and different notebooks for different things. Some use paper, some use computer spreadsheets. Everyone has their own way. This week, we’re talking about how we organise our notes.

Question 134 – How do you organise your notes?

Beth Aman

For my first novel, I had a spiral notebook that held everything – all my plot ideas, scenes, characters, sketches.  For actual plotting, however, I used 3×5 notecards.  Each one had a major plot point on it, and I lined them all up on a wall in my room.  Then I could add other notecards underneath with further explanations or questions, and I could easily re-arrange my plot points.  It was a great visual, and I liked it better having it up on a wall instead of having it on a computer screen.  Now, I’ve started using a Google Doc for all my notes, because I can access that from my phone, and it’s simpler than using a notebook.  But sometimes, my notes still end up scribbled on the nearest scrap of paper/ napkin/ receipt, and hopefully they make it into my Google Doc at some point.

C E Aylett

Various ways – I start with mind mapping, just to get the main ideas down quickly. That could be plot ideas, or characterisation, background, or themes. I then expand on those notes within yWriter project and scene notes. For research, I use Evernote, mostly, because it’s so easy to organise bookmarked web pages, but also I make notes with yWriter and link to webpages or Evernote notes from within that application. There are more details on these software programs, their capabilities, and how they tie into novel writing here.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

Organize?

Notes?

What are these things of which you speak?

In all seriousness though, I’m probably one of the least organized writers you’ll ever meet, and I don’t really have notes, so much as I obsessively flip through the pages of my own writing when I’ve forgotten something. It’s not a great strategy, I know, but organizing my writing has never really jived for me.

Gregory S. Close

I use the notes function on my phone to take notation and then I update those notes to Scrivener periodically.  I still have a metric ton of paper notes lying around in disarray that I have to keep track of, but I try to keep all new notes digital and (very important) backed up.

D. T. Nova

A file for each category of easily sorted information, ordered by a combination of prominence and chronology; a few for particularly important or hard-to-remember details; and a miscellaneous of for everything else.

Eric Wood

I don’t. I simply open my notebook to the next blank page and start writing the idea for a story. It is truly stream of consciousness. From there I start writing, picking out the parts sequentially, and adding in the rest as I move along the story line. Perhaps if I wrote a novel I would be more organised, but organisation is not my forte.

Paul B. Spence

Notes? What notes? Just kidding. I have folders of organized files sorted, by series: people, places, types of starships, terms, technology, races, star charts, names of starships, stages of civilization, types of travel, travel times, time dilation, backstories, additional misc. notes, deleted scenes, weapons, and lots of other stuff. I’m a junkie for notes.

I don’t do notes on plot. I figure out what general story I want to tell, and who I want to experience it. I then write the first scene with that person, then figure out where I want to go along the way. It is a very organic process. I do a lot of writing in my head.

Jean Davis

What is this organization thing you speak of? My notes are like my thoughts: Scattered. There are notes in a notebook that I try to pretend to be organized by using. These notes are usually things I should fix or questions that come up later as I write that I’ll need to tackle when editing. There are also notes in red in the MS as I type so I can go back and fix things. Then there are the notes in a separate .doc file where I keep my character and setting descriptions so they can’t get lost. So three kinds of notes all in their own places. It’s an odd system but it seems to work.

H. Anthe Davis

I have way too many notes for my own health or scatterbrained focus, and I mostly only organize them when I start working on the project (aka specific book) they’re meant for.  When they’re just in gestational idea form, it depends on what the idea is for: a story?  Then it goes in the Story Seeds file.  A plant or animal?  Then it goes in the Green Grimoire (repository of all my main-world flora and fauna info).  Something about another story world?  It will either get a note in my Non-WoM folder’s main story-seed file or a file/subfolder of its own, depending on the size of the idea.  Within my main story folder (where all the War of Memory stuff is), I have it broken down by book — Early Books folder for 1-3 with the master files and any notes on tweaks or rewrites, then folders for Books 4-6 with all the story-threads info, outlines et cetera, plus stray files of general information.  Plus lunar calendars, character history files, transcripts of discussions with my betas, lists of possible titles, the full-series timeline…  I guess what I mean is that it’s not very organized — certainly not in some sort of story-organization program — but I still know where to find anything, and if I can’t, I use a full-text file-search program to locate it.  Works for me!

Elizabeth Rhodes

Notes? Organize? Hah!

In seriousness, I use a program called FreeMind to keep details straight and help me brainstorm ideas before the outline phase. The outline itself is a simple Word document, but I’ve been experimenting with a new method here. While before I’d make a bulleted list for each chapter and a quick summary of each scene, I’m taking a much simpler approach and trying the ever-popular snowflake method.

Jay Dee Archer

I like taking notes. Unfortunately, I’ve taken notes in some random notebooks in the past, and mixed them up with other notes, including writing practice for Japanese! But I have some dedicated notebooks for various aspects of my writing. I have a character notebook, a plot outline notebook, and a folder filled with hand-drawn maps. I’ve also started one with sketches for concept art. I have notebooks specifically for Ariadne, and a separate notebook for other story ideas. I’ve considered using something on my computer, but I feel that it’s safer on paper and easily accessible that way.

How About You?

Are you an author? How do you organise your notes? Or do you even keep notes? Let us know in the comments section below.

Authors Answer 133 – The Passive Voice

The passive voice is something authors are often told not to use. But what exactly is the passive voice? Here’s a simple example.

Passive voice: The door was opened by John.

Active voice: John opened the door.

When you look at the two sentences, the active voice seems more dynamic. There’s actual movement. The passive voice is talking more about the door rather than John. In active, someone does something. For passive, something is done to something by someone or something. But is it something we should avoid using? Obviously, it shouldn’t be used when action is the focus of a scene. This week, we talk about the passive voice.

Question 133 – Do you find it difficult not to use passive voice? What advice would you give to writers who have this difficulty?

Elizabeth Rhodes

I do slip into it sometimes for reasons I can’t explain. I suppose for advice, I’d tell an author to write each sentence so that the action feels right in your face, as opposed to a distant event to witness. A tree was growing on the hill? Meh. A tree grew on the hill? Better.

H. Anthe Davis

Passive voice isn’t a 100% no-no; it has its uses here and there, mostly in formal conversation/dialogue.  I think the best way to handle it is just to study it, learn to recognize it in your writing, consider other options — and don’t press too hard if the passive way seems the only/best way to say what you want.  The English language is flexible.

Jean Davis

Over the years I’ve been trying hard to stomp out passive voice. I wouldn’t say it’s difficult not to use, but it can slip back in if you’re not watching for it. Always try to keep action and description in the present, making the character do things rather than things happening to or around them.

Paul B. Spence

Passive voice is sometimes needed. My advice is to try to not overuse it. All writers use it. Learn the true definition first, then worry if you do it too much. Sorry, the passive voice thing drives me nuts.

Eric Wood

I don’t really think about passive and active voices. Or at least not until I got this question. Now I will. I think I use an active voice. In my writing, I want to make the main character the focus of my sentences so I try to place them in the position of honor – as the subject of the sentence. For writers who have this difficulty I would tell them what I tell myself. As your story has a main character, so, too, do your sentences so keep your focus on keeping them the subject.

D. T. Nova

I don’t think I have a tendency to use it in situations where it should be avoided.

Gregory S. Close

When writing, using the passive voice is not a problem for me…

Crap!

Writing in the passive voice is less a problem than identifying later that you’ve written in the passive voice.  Sometimes, passive fits the need of the sentence.  Knowing when it doesn’t and editing it the heck out of there is the real trick.  Rules should never hinder writing.  Rules should polish it.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

I do find it difficult not to use passive voice, and am often accused of “telling” instead of “showing”. The best advice I can give for writers with this problem is simply to have good beta-readers. A good beta-reader will notice such things and be able to point them out so that you can correct them and (hopefully) be more likely to notice them in the future.

C E Aylett

I use passive voice but I don’t overuse it. I don’t believe it should be avoided, if it is what’s required at the time. Passive voice has its place in many instances and to create certain effects. Of course, it’s always worth questioning where you have used it so you can double check it makes more sense in passive rather than turning it into a more active sentence Coincidentally, I am currently composing a whole article on the subject of when it’s better to use passive voice  for my own blog (www.thestorysmith.com), which I plan to post Sunday 19th May.

Beth Aman

Sometimes!  I used to struggle with this a lot more, and then someone on Critique Circle pointed it to me, and I suddenly understood what I was doing wrong!  Advice to writers who need to work on this: do some research, get your work critiqued, and learn from there.

Jay Dee Archer

In the beginning, I found it difficult to avoid the passive. After teaching English for 11 years, I’ve become extremely conscious of the grammar I use while writing. I don’t have much of a problem with it anymore. But that doesn’t mean using the passive is bad. There are cases when it may be the only type of sentence that makes sense.

But to avoid the passive, you first need to recognise the passive for what it is. Once you do, you’ll notice it a lot more in your writing. While you’re writing, try to think about what the character is doing. If you write through the eyes of the character, even if it is third person, you’ll write in a more active way. Focus on the character’s movements, thoughts, and their senses. This should help a lot.

How about you?

Do you have problems using the passive voice when you should be using the active? What advice would you give? Let us know in the comments section below.

Authors Answer 132 – The Oxford Comma

What is the Oxford comma? I found this definition:

a comma used after the penultimate item in a list of three or more items, before ‘and’ or ‘or’ (e.g. an Italian painter, sculptor, and architect ).

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But why is it such a controversial topic? Is it important to use the Oxford comma? Is it even needed? In many cases, it’s absolutely required to avoid confusion. It’s not always needed in every list, but should we be using it? We talk about that this week.

Question 132 – Do you use the Oxford comma? Why or why not? Give your own example where you would need to use the Oxford comma.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

I do use the Oxford comma, and I personally think everyone should. For one thing, we really should have a set rule so that it stops being such a constant debate. For another, there are just too many sentences that can be turned into nonsense if you neglect to use the Oxford comma. For instance, “Let me introduce you to my boyfriend, my doctor and a rock star” describes one guy with an impressive resume, whereas, “Let me introduce you to my boyfriend, my doctor, and a rock star,” describes an introduction to three separate people.

Gregory S. Close

I think I prefer the Oxford comma.  It just makes sense to me.  There is and should be a difference between: “My heroes are my parents, Aragorn and Arwen. “ and  “My heroes are my parents, Aragorn, and Arwen.”  Unless, you know, your parents are actually Aragorn and Arwen, which is theoretically possible, I guess.

D. T. Nova

I use it most of the time. I would avoid it in the rare situation where it would increase ambiguity rather than decrease it.
“Universal Studios has rides featuring the Men in Black, Jimmy Fallon and Harry Potter.”

Eric Wood

I do use the Oxford Comma. I was taught that it was required and old habits die hard. “I have to thank my parents, Einstein and Beyonce.” It should read, “I have to thank my parents, Einstein, and Beyonce.” My parents are NOT Einstein and Beyonce and that’s how it reads without that Oxford.

Paul B. Spence

Yes, yes I do. I use it because it is the only way to write clearly and be understood. Those who do not use it will be misunderstood, misread, and the subject of schadenfreude. Note the use in the previous sentence.

Jean Davis

I do prefer the Oxford comma, however, I seem to find myself not automatically using it as often as I used to. There are so many good meme examples of why the comma is important, I think I’ll leave it at use the comma anywhere you don’t want to completely change the meaning of your sentence, like eating grandma or turning Hitler and Stalin into strippers.

H. Anthe Davis

I use it where necessary for the sense of the sentence, but I don’t use it religiously.  I actually find the typical construction pretty crude/boring; if I’m going to talk about a collection of things, it’s either going to be two for swiftness or a larger handful for variety.  Three drags on just a little too long for the first and isn’t complex enough for the second.  I wish I could search my documents for Oxford commas to give real examples, but I would use them for listing something that could be skimmed over and become confusing without a comma — say ‘She gathered red beets, greens, and white beans’ so that someone reading quickly wouldn’t think it was ‘she gathered red beets, green and white beans’.  The Oxford comma definitely has its use as a pause/break-up mechanism, but unless there’s a clarity-related reason for it, I don’t usually bother.

Elizabeth Rhodes

Yes, I use it whenever necessary. I have been told by some beta readers that it’s unnecessary, but I feel it’s a small gesture to make the writing as clear as possible. My favorite example to illustrate this is “We invited the strippers, JFK, and Stalin” vs “We invited the strippers, JFK and Stalin.”

Jay Dee Archer

I always use it. I’m in a habit to insert that comma before the “and” to avoid confusion. It makes it easier, really. If I’m always checking my list to see if there would be any confusion, it takes more time. The Oxford comma makes lists clearer.

When I was teaching English, I made up a few examples of where the Oxford comma was required and how it changed the meaning if I excluded it. I wish I could remember some of the sentences. But here’s one I thought of involving food: “For lunch, I had my favourite pie, calamari and coffee.” Sounds disgusting. Calamari and coffee pie? Or how about this one: “I enjoy taxidermy, animals and children.” Basically, I said that I enjoy doing taxidermy on both animals and children. Add the Oxford comma, then it becomes clear.

How about you?

Join the debate! Do you use the Oxford comma? What are your favourite examples where the Oxford comma would be required? Let us know in the comments section below.

Authors Answer 131 – Grammatically Difficult

English is not an easy language. It’s said to be one of the more difficult languages because of inconsistent spelling/pronunciation rules, irregular verbs, articles, and so on. But do authors find English grammar difficult? Let’s find out!

Question 131 – Which rule(s) of English grammar do you find most difficult?

H. Anthe Davis

I had a rather substandard English grammar education — I never diagrammed sentences and I didn’t know what a gerund was until I learned about it in Spanish class.  I think it was because I went to a weird little private middle school…  But anyway, since I never got rigid training in English grammar, I really just do whatever I want, and damn the rules.  Sure, I tried reading Strunk & White and other such writing advisories back when I was still honing my craft and uncertain of my voice, but adhering to strictures just got in the way for me.  I’m much happier not caring.

Jean Davis

For the life of me, I always seem to get lay and lie wrong. I blame my elementary teachers for not thoroughly drilling that into our young brains.

Paul B. Spence

English was not the first language I learned, and so I sometimes have some trouble with word order. As a follower of the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, I am a living example of how language shapes the brain. My first language was ASL (American Sign Language) and so I think kinetically.

Eric Wood

Pretty much all of them. I need to make a conscious effort to make sure my tenses agree. I often have to look up which affect/effect I should use. And if it weren’t for spell check I’d never know what was spelled write or wrong. (see what I did there?)

D. T. Nova

Subjunctive mood. The rules for it basically amount to breaking more common rules in nonsensical ways, and what’s technically “correct” invariably looks wrong.

Gregory S. Close

It’s probably better to ask this question of my editor.  I don’t have any problems with rules of English grammar.  I write what feels correct at the time and then adjust later in editing if needed, based on feedback from my editor.  He picks up on things and makes recommendations, sometimes stronger than others, based on “the rules.”  But as a fiction writer, the story is ultimately more important to me.  I want to stay within the rules so that I don’t confuse the reader, and so that my language is clear and descriptive, not out of awareness of the rules in advance.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

I don’t know if there’s necessarily any specific grammar rules that I find difficult, but in general I find that I have a difficult time separating my everyday voice and my literary voice. That is to say, I come from a place where we have a lot slang and a very, shall we say…improper dialect. We do things like pluralize things that make no sense being pluralized (“I likes my coffee”) and purposely mispronounce words for no particular reason (“She’s my cousint” instead of “cousin”). While a lot of those little bits of local flavor are easy to dissect and remove from my vocabulary when I’m writing, some things tend to sneak in and are only noticed when my beta readers (who aren’t necessarily from around here) contact me to ask what on Earth a certain word or line is supposed to mean.

Jay Dee Archer

I was an English teacher for eleven years up until about a year ago. English grammar was my life. I taught it. I thought about it. I read about it. I had to know everything. What I thought I had difficulty with was conditionals, especially explaining them. But I found that I enjoyed them. I enjoyed teaching passive versus active. I was also always good at spelling, but there was one word that always gave me trouble no matter how many times I reminded myself of the spelling, and that’s embarass. Or is that embarrass? I’m so embarrassed!

How about you?

Is there an aspect of English grammar that you find difficult? Let us know in the comments section below.

Authors Answer 130 – Till Death Do Us Write

For most authors, writing is a long term activity. But how long do authors write? What age do they quit? Or do they quit in their lifetimes? This week, we talk about how long we intend to write.

Question 130 – How long do you think you’ll write? Is there a point when you think you’ll stop?

Tracey Lynn Tobin

I don’t think that I’ll ever really stop writing. I might reach a point in my life when I decide that there’s no point in attempting to publish anymore, but writing in general is just a huge part of who I am. I’ll always scribble out random scenes that pop into my head, or create new stories for other peoples’ characters. It’s not always about the end game of having a completed book; I write for fun, for love, and out of an almost physical need to, and I’m pretty sure that’s how it’s always going to be.

D. T. Nova

Stop entirely? Doesn’t seem very likely.

Gregory S. Close

I think I’ll write until I die.  Not non-stop.  There should be a couple of pee breaks, at least.

Jean Davis

I don’t foresee a reason to stop writing. There may come a time when I write only for myself rather than books I try to sell, but I tend to write the stories I like to read already so that wouldn’t be much of a change.

Eric Wood

I’ve always been drawn to writing. Even as a little kid I loved writing stories. I was always either writing stories or in a journal (not a diary!) or letters to friends to pass in the school halls. I don’t see an end to my writing any time in the near or distant future. Now I write a blog and I’m seriously enjoying it.

Paul B. Spence

What a strange question. I suppose I’ll stop when I’m dead. Why would I ever stop writing? I’m not doing it for the money. I’m writing because I’m a storyteller.

C E Aylett

Now I’ve been doing it for a decade, I can’t see myself ever stopping. However, lately life has become more hectic, complicated and stressful and I’ve lost my mojo a bit. I fully expect it to return, but in the meantime I am forcing bum on seat and even a paragraph a day is progress the way I see it. The only way I could see me stopping would be to let the routine slip, let life totally take control and not make the time for it. In saying that, I have ideas for eight more novels, half of which are already written in various stages of progress. Can’t see me giving those up, tbh.

H. Anthe Davis

I plan to write until I die.  And if we have reached a technological state by then that one can upload consciousness into the internet, or preserve the mind in some other manner, I’d like to continue writing after death too.

Beth Aman

I don’t think I’ll ever permanently stop writing.  I think there will be times when life is just too crazy to write seriously, but I think I will always pick it up again.  (Just like I sometimes go a few months without reading a book, but then I’ll marathon a series in a week.)  Being a writer is a part of who I am, now.  I think I’ll be the 95-year-old woman in a nursing home who won’t stop jotting down bad poetry on old napkins.

Elizabeth Rhodes

I don’t see myself stopping at any point in the future. Realistically, I’ll stop writing when I run out of viable story ideas, but I doubt that will happen or I’d even recognize my newer ideas as nonsense. So, I think I’ll be writing something or other for a good long while.

Cyrus Keith

I’ll stop writing sometime after they close the lid.

Jay Dee Archer

Stop? What’s that? I have far too many stories in my brain to stop writing. I want them out on paper (real and digital) for people to read. The process of writing takes a long time, and I think it’ll take my entire life to get those stories out.

How about you?

If you’re an author, how long do you think you’ll be writing? Let us know in the comments section below.

Authors Answer 129 – Genres Helping Other Genres

People usually read multiple genres, authors included. Authors usually write only one or two genres, though. But can they hone their writing skills in one genre by reading other genres?

Note: This is the first time Authors Answer has been late in 129 posts. I wrote a post about this. A lot of things were going on. #130 should be on time.

Question 129 – Do you think reading different genres can help you with writing in your chosen genre(s)?

Cyrus Keith

Of course. I write science fiction. But I taught myself how to write action sequences by reading Louis L’Amour’s westerns. I taught myself tension from Robert Ludlum and Tom Clancy. I learned revelation from Andre Norton, JRR Tolkein, and Robert Heinlein. The wider your experience, the more tools you get for your tool box.

Elizabeth Rhodes

I think it’s possible. Other genres can introduce you to new tropes and concepts that aren’t necessarily common in your chosen genre. I took some cues from thrillers when writing my science fiction novel Jasper, for example. There’s also something to be said for reading outside of your comfort zone. Who knows? Maybe you’ll pick up some a new genre-blending story idea.

Beth Aman

YES.  YES.  It allows you to experience a much wider scope of voices, and lets you see the strengths of each genre and learn how to adopt them into your own novel.  Who cares if I’m writing a High Fantasy novel?  I want to have characters as good as John Green’s or Rainbow Rowell’s.  Who cares if I’m writing a Contemporary novel?  I want to have a plot as complex as Throne of Glass or City of Bones.  Read wide, read deep, don’t limit yourself.  (But also read stuff in the genre you’re writing – it’s invaluable as well.)

H. Anthe Davis

I certainly don’t think reading other genres can hurt your writing.  It’s good to have a broad mind and an awareness of tropes and techniques throughout fiction (and/or nonfiction).  And there are plenty of novels that class in more than one genre, or subgenres that pull from several parents, so why restrict yourself?

C E Aylett

Well, storytelling is storytelling, no matter the genre, so I expect all reading will teach you something. I can’t read other people’s books when I’m writing my own as I become too distracted by the novel that’s been completed, edited, published and practically perfect compared to my lump of mess. I find I’m thinking about their characters instead of my own and I don’t want to unintentionally apply their story to mine, so I avoid reading novels when I’m working on one.

Paul B. Spence

Certainly. I think a good writer reads just about everything well-written they can get their hands on. I read fantasy, science fiction, horror, thrillers, mysteries, and lots of non-fiction. Many authors have great skills at writing, even if it isn’t in your chosen genre. Anyone can learn a lot from the good writers.

Eric Wood

Most definitely. I think the biggest difference between genres is the setting. Otherwise, the main story elements are closely related. There is still conflict and rising action and climax and a solution across all genres. Therefore, reading any genre will provide an opportunity to brainstorm new conflicts or perhaps an old conflict with a new solution.

Jean Davis

Yes, definitely. Reading other genres helps us pick up ideas and techniques different from our standard genre tools. There are always other angles that can be incorporated into a story to spice it up or help it appeal to a wider audience.

Gregory S. Close

I think reading in different genres is a great way to build your narrative vocabulary.  Genre is a pretty fluid concept as is, but obviously having great skill writing a mystery could prove beneficial if you’re writing a sci fi epic with a mystery at its heart.  Conversely, having a good handle on writing science can help add authenticity to a mystery set in a research laboratory.  Good writing and good technique is always worth reading.

D. T. Nova

Probably. Especially in areas where there’s any overlap.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

Absolutely, yes. It might not seem like it if you’re, for instance, reading romance when you’re writing horror, but every genre has something different to teach you. You never know what kind of literary tricks you might pick up by broadening your horizons and taking a look at what else is out there.

Jay Dee Archer

Definitely. I write mainly science fiction, though I want to write fantasy. I don’t just read those two genres, though. I also read some classics, especially Shakespeare. And I enjoy a lot of science and history. Non-fiction has helped me a lot with my sci-fi writing. I use a lot of science, and my interest in history and cultures helps me with the development of cultures and change of cultures. In my case, the different genres help me with factual information. I think that reading things like historical fiction or war novels can help with writing combat or fighting. Reading fantasy could help with writing different cultures and worldbuilding. There are so many things you can learn by reading other genres.

How about you?

If you’re an author, do you benefit from reading other genres? Let us know in the comments section below.