I already posted about Writers Write, so now let’s talk about writers and reading.
I love to read, always have, and books were always one of those things in my budget that I considered a priority. However, in keeping with my continued efforts to trim the budget, my book buying days have been drastically reduced.* I have preferences, but will read anything, so lately I’ve been doing a lot of borrowing. My Friday Night Madness buddy doesn’t read novels, so over the past couple of years I’ve read what he buys–biographies and memoirs.
Until I began borrowing books from him, I think I could have counted the number of biographies I read voluntarily on one hand. Much to my surprise, I’ve realized I’m enjoying them–once I got past the first 52 Judy Garland bios 😛 Not only do I enjoy biographies, I think they’re going to be very helpful to me when I get back to my WIP, and any future works that might spring from my leaky brain.
As I mentioned previously, I like to read and write books that are character driven. I think my foray into biographies will help that along. We all like to read characters that are fully fleshed, strive to create characters that will feel realistic to readers–even if that character is a vampire. 🙂 I also need endings to feel satisfying. Not necessarily the proverbial happily-ever-after, but satisfying. Good biographies tend to give that, even when the subject is dressed in their Sunday best for publication and avoidance of law suits. 😉
Over the years I’ve purchased and collected many books on writing, quite a few of which I recycled when we moved into this apartment. Among the first to go were the ones that suggested making a “checklist” for your characters. Yes, ok, make a note of age, hair color, eye color, etc. to avoid inconsistencies as you work on the manuscript. But a checklist? I couldn’t reduce Papa, my children, or any of my friends to a checklist, and a good character should be deeper. I’m sure there are successful, published writers out there that it works for. Not for me. Assuming you have a good basic grasp of the language you’re writing in and don’t have 50 adverbs on the first page; having characters that are flat and cliched will make me give up on a book faster than anything else. I don’t see how you can avoid this if you’re creating characters from a checklist. All of the best books on writing that I’ve read point out that writers read. And if you’re writing with a goal of publishing, read what’s being published now. 🙂
So as a reader and a writer, characters and endings are my priorities. What are yours, and why?
*I also confess to a more than passing acquaintance with the clearance tables. 😛