Reading and Voice

Shini writes: Is it a good idea to read your favored genre voraciously? I am concerned that would lead to either loosing your natural voice or otherwise having it butchered in favor of an amalgam of what has recently been read.

I’m sorry my reply has taken so long. There’s been way too much travel in my life lately.

As a beginning writer, is it a good idea to read? Yes. You need to read good fiction to understand how it works. When I started writing I would read a novel once for pleasure, and then go back and dissected it to figure out exactly how the author did what they did.

Did my voice suffer? To be brutally honest I didn’t have a “voice” when I started. Most beginning writers don’t. Professional editors tell me that it usually takes a writer several hundred thousand words before they establish a decent voice.

There was a point where I had to be careful to read only well-written fiction, because I would absorb a particular author’s style of writing. The benefits of learning from established authors, however, far outweighed any compromising of my fledgling voice.

Note: an author’s voice will change over the course of time. It’s nothing to worry about. It’s a natural evolution for the better. Embrace it. Grow. Change. Enjoy.

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