Authors to Read to Improve Your Writing
Authors to Read to Improve Your Writing
As a writer, you should never stop improving. Your goal should be to hone your craft for the rest of your life. Time, experience, and creativity will all help with that. You’ll learn from mistakes, focus on aspects of your writing you’d like to change, and determine where you would like to grow.
However, improvement often requires inspiration.
Reading is essential for writers. It can help you learn new and different skills. Whether you want to read pieces that teach you how to become a better writer, or you’re more interested in fiction stories that improve your communication and emotional intelligence, you should never stop soaking up the works of other notable authors.
With that in mind, let’s break down a few different genres, which authors you should be looking for, and how they can help to improve your writing.
Historical Fiction and Nonfiction
If you enjoy writing about specific time periods or themes, doing your “research” is important. Even if you’re creating a completely new world in your writing, you can bring in realistic elements from the past.
While searching through history books and archives is one way to do that, you can make things a bit easier (and interesting) by looking at other works of historical fiction and nonfiction. Looking at history, even through fiction stories, helps to bridge the past and the present. Take a look at recent successes like The Handmaid’s Tale or Brave New World. Those authors had to look back on some of the horrible remedies and treatments used in the past to bridge the gap between the past and present, no matter how grim.
Writers like Yaa Gyasi (Homecoming) and Rebecca Skloot (The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks) are great examples you can turn to, but don’t be afraid to pick up any acclaimed novel set in a different time.
Writing About Writing
Sometimes, you might not be stuck on a specific idea, but how to bring that idea to life. In those cases, it can help to turn to authors who have written about the art of writing. Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing is one of the most popular and successful options, serving as both a manual for writers and a celebration of the art all at once. Some of the main points the book covers include:
- Write quickly and excitedly, and edit later
- Write at least 1000 words each day
- Ask questions
- Be flexible
Even if you’re an experienced writer, Bradbury’s work might end up teaching you something you hadn’t thought of before.
Are you a horror writer? Do you love romance? Maybe you want to write the next great thriller.
While the last thing you want to do is copy anyone else’s style, you can certainly gain inspiration from other notable authors in the genre of your choice.
Who’s the first person you think of when it comes to horror writing? Stephen King. What about science fiction? More than likely, Jules Verne. Looking for a good murder mystery inspiration? It doesn’t get better than Agatha Christie.
Having authors that can inspire you in your own genre can help you hone your craft and pay homage to everything they’ve done for that genre so far. You can even take things one step further and focus on authors who excel at writing characters and imagery, no matter the genre. People like Haruki Murakami, Fredrik Backman, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie are all experts at building in-depth characters and scenery, allowing their readers to fall completely into new worlds.
Classic and Prolific Authors
Sometimes, you’ll find inspiration for your writing in the most unexpected places. If you’re writing horror, you might not think authors like Hemingway, Shakespeare, or Homer would be beneficial to you.
However, the works of these writers have stood the test of time for a reason. You might not be writing sonnets or creating stories about war, but you can take notes from different styles, techniques, and descriptions. No matter the genre, looking at some of the greatest artists of all time can inspire you to write at that level.
No matter where you are in your writing career, your personal library should be full of other people’s works. Never stop reading, and you’ll never stop improving.
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