I’ve got a book signing coming up soon (more on that later), and there’s a strong chance I’m going to speak to many people looking for writing advice.
Of course, there are many, many things I recommend you do should you desire to write, but perhaps the biggest piece of advice I have for any prospective or current writers is to read.
Yes, it’s that simple.
Chances are, if you want to write you already are an avid reader, but even so, do not underestimate the power of reading. Reading voraciously exposes you to other authors’ style, vocabulary, pacing, characterization, plot structure, etc. You’ll find some styles more inspiring than others, and you may even strive to emulate those authors.
Notice that I did not say “copy.”
For example, if you read my work, you realize that I tend to write about fairly realistic science fiction or fantasy. Meaning, my stories seem very much set in the real world except for an occasional demon or robot going about his daily business.
Interestingly enough, the authors I most enjoy reading include Paul Auster, Michael Chabon, Cormac McCarthy, and Annie Proulx. For the most part, these authors do not specialize in fantasy or science fiction. However, I love Auster’s brilliantly compact writing. Chabon is a master at description. McCarthy builds tension like no one else. Proulx never fails to capture the essence of emotion. Though we rarely operate in the same realms, I never fail to learn something about craft when I read these authors. Best of all, they write kick ass books.
There isn’t much I won’t read, and I think I’m a better writer for it.
So that’s my biggest piece of advice. Start reading more. Read as often as you can. Be warned, however, when reading through the lens of “author,” you’ll become far more critical and may actually realize you hate your favorite author’s bad habits. I can’t stand the words “was” or “had,” so every time I see an author use either of them, I cringe.
Enjoy your reading!