Read what you write or write what you read?

I have just recently finished reading a novel that is of the same ilk as the one I am attempting to write. The plot isn’t the same, it isn’t based in the same time period and the viewpoint differs but the general theme and the way in which the story unfolds is akin to the approach I am taking in my own narrative. This way in which the author reveals elements of the plot to her readers while her characters remain unawares is also something I am hoping I can acheive in my work. While I originally thought it was a weakness to her story the author also managed to weave in a final twist that her main character was aware of, but the reader was not. I quite respect the means by which she was able to construct this and the ironic mirroring of information she provides to both reader and protagonist, seperately.

In reading the book I have identified a few pitfalls and difficulties that the author has not quite managed to navigate around quite so cleanly as perhaps she may have  liked, and therefore I might be able to avoid during my own writing attempts. One thing that frustrated me greatly mid-way through was the switch between limited viewpoint and  the omnipotence that appeared toward the end of the novel, although I admit this does provide the reader with the information they needed to make sense of the story. There were also far too many ‘moments of clarity’ where the protagonist found herself ‘suddenly seeing the situation for what it was’ and ‘realising that it had to change’ and then immediately making that change with no further considerations or regret.

However, I’ve also discovered new approaches to the theme of my novel and potential means by which to fruitfully explore them technically. There are things I know to look out for now and elements that I realise may have been previously overlooked that need attention during re-drafting. I plan to reread the novel in much more detail – this time as less of a reader and more of an analyst: trying to spot how things have been written rather than getting involved in the story itself. It could be a valuable asset during my struggles to write my novel: proving that what I am attempting can be done, and can be successful if approached the right way.

The final thing it has made me wonder about is the title of this post: did I read this book because it reminded me of what I wanted to write, or am I writing in the genre of that which I would most likely read? I did choose the book because of the similar theme it presented to my own novel, but I suspect it would be a book I read anyway. So which is it? Am I reading what I write, or writing that which I read? Perhaps there isn’t even a distinction anymore.

[For those who are curious, the book I recently read and refer to here is Fallen Angels by Tara Hyland]


2 responses to “Read what you write or write what you read?

  1. Hmmm. Hadn’t thought about it like this. I read a lot of historical fiction, but I don’t really want to write it (I don’t know, maybe some day). I actually don’t read a whole lot of the type that I write about ironically.

  2. if you’d like an opinion, feel free to e-mail me the details.

    i once read a book only because the title and the cover looked like they could have easily fit on my project. turns out it was very different. more important, that book really sucked.

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