If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.Stephen King, On Writing
What makes a good writer?
That’s a big question. Is it a talent you’re born with, or a skill you can learn? Is it your ideas, or your storytelling – or your characters?
I think it is all these things. I think it is talent and hard work. I think it is learning how to frame your ideas, how to build your stories, and how to connect with your characters.
And how do you learn these things? You write. You write again. And you write some more.
But you know what else you need to do?
Read. A lot.
This is my recent reading pile. These are books that have gripped and inspired me. Books that have crept into my mind, pulled up a chair, and refused to leave.
I’ve thought about them. I’ve analysed them. I’ve turned back through the pages, looking for the source of the magic.
And I’ve written reviews.
Reviews are partly for the audience. They are partly to show other readers what I enjoyed about the books, and what I loved about them. To inspire other people to read and enjoy them.
And they are partly for me.
They give me a reason and an opportunity to think about ideas, story, and character. They push me to figure out how other writers communicate their stories, and their ideas. They force me to put my feelings about a book into words, and to understand where the magic comes from.
They help me to improve my ideas, my storytelling, and my characters.
You’ll find my YA reviews on GoodReads. I read as much as I can, and I review what I read. It helps other authors – I’m promoting their books, after all – but it also helps readers to find me. If you like reading what I like reading, you’ll probably enjoy the books I write!
In writing reviews of my books, readers can help expose them to a wider audience.
We’re all helping each other. The books I read and the reviews I write help me to be a better writer. The reviews I write help readers to find new authors and new books to add to their reading piles. And the reviews you write take my books – and all the books you write about – to new readers.
Over to you
If you’ve read Making Trouble, my FREE novella, I hope you enjoyed it. I hope it crept into your mind and pulled up a chair, and I hope you found yourself caring about Toph and Nasrin and Alec and Charlie and Rob.
If you did, I’d like to ask a favour.
Write me a review. It doesn’t have to be long, and it doesn’t have to be detailed. Tell other readers what you liked about the book – or what you didn’t like! Don’t spoil the story or give away the plot, but let other readers know what to expect. Add your voice to the reviews on GoodReads or LibraryThing, or your favourite review site, and use the comments section below to tell us about it.
You’ll be sending me feedback, which is always helpful. You’ll be holding a book you’ve enjoyed out to other readers, and influencing what they choose to read next. And you’ll be figuring out for yourself what I did with my ideas, my story, and my characters.
Whether you’re a reader or a writer, that can only be a good thing.
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One Reply to “Read a lot and write a lot: the role of reviews”
The question of who a review is for, and how to frame it is interesting. I review all my reads (nearly) over on LibraryThing, but I’m sure few people other than me read them. I do find it useful to refer back and remind myself why I hated that book, and which bit of the series this episode concerned. Somehow I seem to spend a lot of effort for a few occasional aide memoirs.
I do find it easier to review negatively rather than picking out the joy. Mediocre books are especially hard to garner much enthusiasm or words around.