As Sylvia Day said at our reader luncheon a couple of years ago, writer's are readers--usually passionate readers. Since that luncheon speech, I have given a lot of thought to how I read as a writer. Of course, when I was a kid, I read for the pure joy of reading and becoming involved (or obsessed) with a story. I was writing as a child, and I am sure I was absorbing and mimicking the things I read, but it certainly wasn't a conscious choice.
However, in my adult writing and reading life, I am very conscious of story telling. Though craft books are valuable, I really enjoy seeing how other writers "do it." Sometimes after reading a really great novel I will go back and write the plot out on paper, chapter by chapter (or scene by scene), just to see what an author did so well that I couldn't stop reading. I do this with fiction, but I have recently started to do the same with biographies. I find it fascinating to look at "real" lives and see the trajectory of someone else's life--something that often presents a complex plot of its own. It is amazing to see how life unfolds, and sometimes looking at a "real" person's life makes me think about the decisions my fictional characters make and the paths they find themselves on at various points in the novel.
Reading is such a valuable tool in the writer's toolbox--maybe the most valuable. The same exercises and thinking can be applied to television and movies, too, so it is nice to know we have a world of inspiration open to us!
Susan Sierra is a historical and contemporary romance writer. She loves books and old letters, adores her dog and family, and has a deep and committed love affair with coffee. She spent time as an undergraduate studying (having fun) in Mexico, went on to work for a large regional magazine as a copy editor, and then decided that she hadn’t tortured herself enough in life...so she went to graduate school. After many years, she walked away with a PhD and an unhealthy relationship with Charles Dickens. She hopes to complete her first full-length novel in 2015. FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER!