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Reading as inspiration February 13, 2010

Posted by mattfarmer in writing.
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This year I hope to be a significant year for me. I have made promises to myself, I have finally put my writing out there, but I have also declared that I would like to make a conscious effort to read outside my pet genres. I love speculative fiction, science fiction, fantasy, cyberpunk, and all fantastical things.

I have quite a collection of these books on my shelves, and in boxes in the garage. It is an old adage that you read what you like to read, and you write what you like to write, and both these things are connected.

However, an author told me once that he was reading gumshoe mysteries as research for his latest science fiction. This sounded strange to me at first, however after discussion, it made perfect sense. Just because a book sits on the science fiction shelf, and a book sits on a the crime shelf, does not mean once cannot influence the other. There can be elements of mystery and horror, romance and comedy in science fiction and fantasy.

This idea sounds completely obvious to me now, but it was such a revelation to me at the time. Of course!

A year ago a friend gave me for Christmas some Harlan Coben crime novels, starring Myron Bolitar. He bought them for me because the main character is a basketball with a knee injury. That would be me. He thought I would love it because I was the main character. Of course, that did make him Windsor Horne Lockwood III. He was quite okay with this.

This was the first time in a long time, possibly since university, that I read outside my genre. And I liked it. I enjoyed the story; I enjoyed the writing, the characters and all that. And not a space station in sight. This appreciation of a different genre lead me to prompt my writing group to write outside their genre. I tried to write a romantic comedy. What I wrote wasnt so bad, and there was a seduction to a Bon Jovi song.

So, this year, to broaden my horizons, I have put it out there that I wish to read outside my genre, watch tv shows outside my pet genres. Of course, I will stray back into speculative fiction, but i will try to be strong.

So far this year I have read ‘The Book Thief’ written by Markus Zusak. I will admit I wanted to read this book purely because of the title, however I am so glad I read this book. Utterly amazing. The narrative point of view, the language, the description, it was beautiful. And it influenced me, of course. We are all sponges, what we read, hear, watch, it all sinks in and influences what you produce. I know that when I was writing a gun fight in my novel I used different descriptive words than I would normally use, and I liked it.

I am now reading a biography of Black Sabbath, just to mix things up. What I am enjoying about this book is reading about people, saving tidbits for possible future characters in stories. I am reading about characters, who are real people. I don’t know where or when, but I am sure one of my characters in the future may have a past in a band, touring, creating albums in 1 week, with crazy managers and fans.

All reading is  good imagination fodder.


1. thepbcd - February 13, 2010

I totally understand the idea of elements of two seemingly unconnected things we enjoy coming together in what we enjoy writing or creating. I have noticed this not only with different genres, but different mediums (animation vs. video games vs. classic films vs. books).

It seems that there can always be a connection when the two things share one special thing: a story.

I enjoyed reading this blog.I hope you make it as a professional writer, especially after writing 8 books! And it’s cool to meet a fellow NaNoWriMo person on here too!

Keep it up!


2. 4 styles in one day « Matthew Farmer - March 21, 2010

[…] much the same way that different sources of reading or film can inspire your creative writing, I believe different styles of writing can excercise your […]

3. Its just a video game « Matthew Farmer - April 26, 2010

[…] back at my post about inspiration from reading, I now have another source for inspiration. Something I will file away for later use. The black and […]

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