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Read what you write- Write what you read

Read what you write- Write what you read

Ask any writer about their hobbies, and reading will be front and center. When trying to change our Writing from a hobby to a business, what can we learn from the books we read?

One piece of advice I have had no trouble following is to read books in the genre I wanted to write in. There are plenty of great Christian fiction selections at the book store and the local library. In fact, it’s by doing this that I identified my own brand. Rather than writing romances, either historical or contemporary, I learned that my books are women’s fiction- in the vein of Deborah Raney or Kim Vogel Sawyer or Susan May Warren. What’s the difference? Although my stories (and Deb’s, Kim’s, and Suzie’s) always include a love interest for my heroine, the focus of the story is not “how the girl gets her man”. Instead, it’s “how the girl grows up enough to allow a man to share her life.” Believe me, I’m not making a comment here on romance writers. I love reading these books as much as the next gal. But, through reading all types, I discovered that my writing style guides me down a different path.

But what can be learned from the other books I choose? I have a weakness for cozy mysteries, like The Cat Who series- and the Scottish tales of M.C. Beaton. How do they help in my writing Christian Women’s fiction? It’s all about plot- how the pieces fit together, the foreshadowing of clues along the way that help the story develop and the ending make sense.  I write contemporary- so what do I learnd from the historicals; particularly Westerns like Stephen Bly and Laurine Snelling? For these books- it’s all about description. They can convince me I’m standing on a dusty western street, trying to keep my ankle length dress out of the only mud puddle in town, or sidestepping a pile of manure. In order to put myself in the middle of an unfamiliar experience, I have to use all of my senses, close my eyes, and place myself there.

Then, of course, there is my daily reading adventure- in the Bible. Here’s where the spiritual element of my story is fed. As I read the beautiful language of the psalms, or the dire predictions of the prophets, I learn that confusion over God’s plan for our lives is nothing new. Reading the Gospels and the New Testament letters reminds me that there is Hope. Jesus died for me, and for all of my readers. If my stories help to bring that across to someone, I will have been successful.

So- favorite hobby- Reading. Favorite part-time job and future career- Writing. That’s me in a nutshell.

  1. Pamela Stephens08-19-11

    Reading/writing is our life! Good advice and challenge to us!

  2. Sheila Covey08-23-11

    Jenny, I absolutely loved reading this post. Makes me wonder about the placement I have my book. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Illene Stewart08-28-11

    I’m just beginning my fiction writing journey. I appreciate the guidance on deciding which genre slot my story is heading toward.

  4. Jenny Carlisle08-28-11

    Like I said, Illeene, Read, Read, Read. Your writing won’t be like anyone else’s, but you will begin to see commonalities in the stories you really enjoy.

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