When I give workshops or teach classes – when I meet wannabe writers – I often ask: What are you reading? I hope they will respond with current books in the genre and for the age range they want to write. But all too often, teen writers admit that they don’t read books and adult writers confess they aren’t reading any children/teen fiction.
My heart breaks. My head throbs.
To be a writer you MUST be a reader.
Some of these unread writers will guiltily try to explain. The reason for their appalling behaviour? They are afraid if they read books in the same genre they will accidentally mimic other writers. If only! I wish that I only had to read Malorie Blackman, Sharon Creech, Sally Gardner, my fellow EDGE writers or other fabulous authors and Voila! I could write like they do. If that’s how it worked, I’d never stop reading their books. I’d sleep with them under my pillow. I devour their books because I DO want to write as beautifully and capture readers’ imaginations the way they do.
|Studying Cormier and Horowitz for insight & inspiration for my new series.|
The only creative writing teachers you will ever need are on bookstore and library shelves. Find the books you adore and wished you’d written and dissect them. What makes them tick? How did that author hook you and keep you turning the page? If you are having character problems? Find great characters and determine how the writer gave birth to them. Dodgy dialog? Study writers with effortless exchanges.
And I’ll take my advice one step further. BUY THE BOOK. Support the industry you hope will support you one day. There are fewer publishers out there and fewer bookshops. If we don’t support our industry – publishers, bookshops and our fellow writers and illustrators – then we are part of the problem!
|My book purchases in May.|
For the price of a Big Mac, fries and soda, I can purchase a paperback written by one of my fine, fellow EDGE authors. That’s hours of entertainment – and a much bigger bang for your buck than a movie. (Although you could argue the nearly 1,000 calories of a Big Mac meal will linger on my hips and clog my arteries for years to come. So I’m actually saving your life by advocating Books over Big Macs. But I digress…)
My husband thinks I am single-handedly trying to bolster the publishing industry. (This is a photo ofthis month’s book purchases.) Yeah, I have a book buying problem. But there are so many amazing books being published – and much worse addictions.
Want to be a writer?
Want a book with your name on the spine?
My top writing tip – buy LOTS AND LOTS of great books – and study them!
Sara Grant has written two edgy teen novels -- Dark Parties and Half Lives -- and a funny series for young readers -- Magic Trix.She is currently developing a new action-adventure series for tweens with Scholastic. For more information on Sara and her books, visit www.sara-grant.com or follow her on Twitter @AuthorSaraGrant