Then I started writing. I attended my first writer's conference.
Oh, I'd been reading all my life. I read a wide variety of classical novels, contemporary fiction, Christian fiction, non-fiction, etc.
My professors in college all said that I was an excellent writer. Non-fiction, that is.
I wrote my first novel and pitched it to a professional critiquer.
She said it would help if I read a lot of books. I composed my face and thanked her for her helpful comments on my writing.
She meant well, but honestly, did she think I wrote in a vacuum --that I'd never opened a book before I attempted my own?
I know what she meant, however. That it's extremely helpful to read others' writing and see how they handle dialogue, structure a scene, hook you with compelling characterizations, etc.
But before you can read with a discerning eye, you have to know what to look for. I wish my critique lady had said: keep taking on-line writing courses, read and study some good books on the craft of writing, hang out with other writers, get into a good critique group, take a good writing course, talk to professional writers.
Then, start reading books with the eyes of a writer, not a reader.
Armed with some writing tools, and reading a new book just about every three or four days, I'm really starting to get it.
Now, each book that I read teaches me another little aspect of the craft.
So now, the biggest advice I'd give a new fiction writer would be:
- study a good book on the craft of writing
- open a novel and start finding all the techniques the writing book touches on
- write a scene using the new techniques you've just read about, and noticed in the novel.
- Have it critiqued.
You'll be amazed at how quickly your writing craft will grow. Happy writing!