If you’re a writer, more than likely your love of storytelling first began with a love of reading. And if you’re a writer who doesn’t love reading, you may have heard the famous quote by Stephen King, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.” The fact is, reading and writing are inextricably linked. Reading should be an important part of every writer’s work.
Assuming that you’re a writer who’s already a voracious reader, it’s also important to consider what you read. Most writers have a tendency to read within their favorite genre to write. But reading outside of your genre can be an incredibly important part of growing as a writer. Here are some ways that reading outside of your genre can improve your writing skills:
Discover Your Best Writing Genres
Just because you enjoy reading a genre does not mean that you are the best suited to write in that particular genre. Of course you can write in any genre you choose, but maybe you have the comedic chops to write fantastic rom-coms, even though you’ve been struggling to write the fantasy you love reading. The reality is, by reading in other genres, you expose yourself to tropes you may be better suited to writing.
Reading other genres may also inspire you to attempt writing a different genre. And—who knows—it might end up being the genre that really connects with readers.
Understand Your Own Genre
All genres have tropes. Some genres have more inflexible rules (such as romance) but in all genres it’s important to understand reader expectations. By reading within your own genre, you’ve more than likely come to know and understand those tropes.
On the other hand, by reading another genres you might come to have better insight into the nuance of your genre tropes. While reading another genre, you might suddenly have a revelation as to how a situation would be handled if it were your genre—which can help you, in turn, understand why those genre tropes are so important.
Learn to Break Clichés in Your Genre
After reading and writing within one genre for a while, you may begin to feel that your genre is a bit stale. Having learned your genre tropes, by reading other genres you may feel inspired to try something different. While not all rules can be broken, there may be a fresh new spin on a cliché that another genre can teach you.
Reading different genres expose you to prose and sentence structure that you aren’t accustomed to. The more writing you take in, the more you have the opportunity to absorb different literary techniques. And, the more you read, the richer your knowledge will be.