Want to learn more about writing? Read. It’s been said before, but pay attention while you read. Ask questions. What do you like? What don’t you like? Why?
I’m an avid re-reader. If I like a book I like to read it again, and again, and again. I’m currently re-reading a series for the third or fourth time (first time on paperback, I’ve been petting them but that’s a separate story). Four books. Four romances. As I read, I’m thinking. Since I know the story I can pay attention to little details, how the author achieved this or that. See what I can learn from a well-respected author and a series I adore.
One such discovery surprised me. A trope I love (friends to lovers) is featured in one of the books. This particular novel, however, turns out to be my least favorite of the series. To be clear, I like them all, but no matter which way I look at it this book always takes the #4 slot.
Why? I’d asked myself this many times. I knew the answer had to be there and I think I figured it out. The characters are bold, rough, sexual. The writing smooth and light. The story works, but if the writing supported the wild side of the characters—the sizzle—the story would have popped off the page.
This means it would have been a different story, because it would be a different writer. Or, at the very least, a different approach from the same writer, altering the story. I found it so interesting to come to this conclusion and compare to other books, other writers, other styles. How they each lend to their own craft.
It gives me more confidence it what I write, in embracing the style my craft creates. I may love reading a suspenseful romance. But I may never write one myself. Not my craft, not where my own writing shines (at least, I believe, I should never say never to something I haven’t tried). And that’s okay.
Bottom line? Write. Read. Analyze. Play with concepts. Ask questions. Learn what works for you as a reader, equate that into your work as a writer. Never stop learning.