It was a hard choice to pick just 3 of the books I managed to read over the summer ~ yeah, I know ‘How can you manage to read so many novels with all you do?’ Well, as any writer knows, you MUST read to become a good writer. It helps you perceive word choices, pacing, the flow and order of scenes, characterization, plotting, and so much more.
Often writers make the mistake, believing they shouldn’t read while they are working on their own work. Many believe they might be influenced by the style of the author they are reading, and thus, lose their own voice and style within their own work. While this may happen, it will be a rare thing. You will more likely find yourself remaining true to your own style as you burrow deeper and deeper into the story you are writing.
Others, find themselves overwhelmed by the powerful writing of a pro writer, feeling their own writing is inadequate. So they avoid reading, hoping to preserve their self-esteem. But what you’re really telling yourself, is that you’re confident in your own writing and your don’t need to study the writing of a professional writer.
Both avoidance reasons are myths!
Best advice I can impart to you, is Read in between your writing session. If your writing a horror story, read some stories y your favorite horror writer. There is a reason you like his/her work and there is a reason you like writing horror. So, as you read the stories by your favorite writer (regardless of genre actually) keep your mind open to the areas of the story that draws you in, pay attention to how the writer introduces characters, how they present dialogue. You don’t have to memorize this or to mimic it. Just notice it.
Anyway, here are a few of my favorite books from the Summer. These are just my notes and thoughts on the books, if you want full blown reviews and details on the plot lines, you can find those on Amazon.com.
Odd Thomas: This was Koontz at his finest. Fast paced, riveting, packed-full of ‘odd’, likable and quirky characters. There is a neat evil element and the suspense sucks you in immediately. Early on, you want to know who will live and who will die. An excellent book for any writer eager to study the art of story-telling. Kudos to Dean Koontz!!!
The Overnight: Writing a novel in present tense is a rarity, and a awesome endeavor. Not many can sustain it. No many can do it well. But not so for Ramsey Campbell and not in this novel. The Overnight is a subtle chiller. It introduces you, the reader, to the paranormal as it does the characters of the bookstore ~ slowly and subtly. I enjoyed reading this book late at night, just before bed, while I lay under the covers with only my small headboard light on. Its a book you savor over time, and not one you’ll find yourself reading in one sitting, because Ramsey Campbell takes his time to immerse in the mundane drudgery of working an ordinary job.
It’s a great book to study how presence tense can work, if done right.
The Face: No, I’m not a Dean Koontz fanatic; and yes, I do have a wider reading range beyond that of horror fiction. But hey, I write horror and when I write horror I read horror. I had a lot of story deadlines to meet over the summer and most of those involved horror stories; and I have other project I’m working on that involve horror tales so I craved horror and suspense.
Although this novel possessed an evil antagonist and would be considered for speculative fiction rather than outright horror, the tale was indeed packed with suspense. The characters here were a tad bit stereotypical for my tastes, with the exception of Fric, the neglected and most often overlooked son of a movie star. Yet the story made up for that with the dazzling descriptive passages Koontz used to set each seen and with his use of the puzzles.
This was a page turner for me, and thus, it was savored and read in less than a week. Neat read!
And, in case you inquiring minds want to know, I read a total of 6 books over the Summer from June through August. For me, that’s about average.