It’s official: I have an addiction to reading.
But hey, nothin’ wrong with that, right Doc? I’ve already read more than 20 books this summer, and I’m aiming for another 10 to 15 more before I go back to college.
So, why do I read?
Well, there’s the obvious answers:
- To get lost in a different world (Very true, as I have a fairly active imagination and, if anything, a long attention span and need to occupy something to keep me from getting bored).
- I’m bored and it beats Xbox (True, but I still play my fair share of Call of Duty).
- To read the book before the movie comes out (Ahem, Hunger Games, Perks of Being a Wallflower and World War Z).
But I have another answer, something I was always semi-conscious of but never fully realized until around a month ago:
I read to get ideas for my novel that I am writing. Well since I’ve only written a few scattered pages I should say the novel that I plan to write.
Here are some things I’ve read about and plan to blend together into my novel:
I just finished reading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, the allegory about a Spanish shepherd who travels to Egypt to find treasure and his meaning of life. And it gave me an idea to make my story slightly allegorical and have parables and moral lessons in much the same way as The Alchemist and The Odyssey are simple tales that show our humanity and hopes. And I’ll throw in a little philosophy, too.
2. Beginning and ending the novel
I have deliberately read a diverse collection of books this summer (I went from the grueling Homicide to the upbeat X-Men to cool James Bond in a week). I read graphic novels, thrillers and young adult dystopians- to get a well-rounded look at literature.
And I have a habit at noticing the beginning and endings of novels- how do writers catch their reader’s attention?
One great beginning I saw was in Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler, the witty take on a teenage breakup:
In a sec you’ll hear a thunk.
3. Thinking outside the box/ satire
Another piece of inspiration for writing came from reading Deadpool & Cable from none other than Deadpool, the Merc with a Mouth, who breaks the fourth wall and talks directly to the reader. How awesome is that! It gave me the idea of writing a book where the character knows he is in the book. Maybe it could be a satire on the entire novel culture and the character does something just to create a cliffhanger at the chapter break and says, “Find out what happens next chapter!”
Something I learned both from Deadpool and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is how to use humor. That’s something I need to learn! I have been told before -the person choosing his words carefully- that my writing is “Dry.” And no, he didn’t mean dry as in “Dry wit like in the British Office TV show,” he meant dry as in “Boring, dull.”
So I will try to make my writing more interesting and funny! That requires good dialogue and bizarre situations.
5. Science fiction/ fantasy
This is very important because my novel will be science fiction and fantasy. I have looked at how different sci-fi books have been written and how the future is presented. I obviously don’t want to copy a future technology or plot line so it is important to be knowledgeable about the genre.
My novel will have some components of space travel so I need to get at least a basic understanding about space travel as presented in sci-fi.
And I need to vividly describe the world I am imagining to give my readers the same world I envision.
There is a reason I read so much. Yes, probably the biggest reason I read is to get lost in a new world, a world where magic or time travel is possible. But I also read for the (somewhat selfish) reason to improve my writing to see what other writers have done, evaluating what works and what does not.
Know any books worth checking out for their creative brilliance?
The Alchemist has a great encouragement for anyone trying to achieve their dreams. We just have to believe. As the King told the shepherd:
“When you want something, all the universe conspires to help you achieve it.”
First picture (books) and text by Tim Worden