Jann: Barb, when youâ€™re starting a new WIP, do you only read books in the genre youâ€™re writing?
Barb: I like to read the genre Iâ€™m writing in because it gets me in that frame of mind, that contemporary world. I especially like reading humor, which I try to write. Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Jennifer Crusie both know how to construct a laugh-out-loud scene. For category romance, our own Sandra Paul (aka Sandy Chvostal) has always tickled my funny bone. I still find myself pulling out her Reluctant Hero and Domesticating Luc to see how she incorporates animals in her stories, and Linda Johnston also, with her pet sitter and pet rescue stories.
Jann: Totally agree. You know Iâ€™m writing a series category romance, but I read anything and everything romance–historical, paranormal, urban fantasy, contemporary. But I find itâ€™s easier to plot when I read only series romance for at least a couple of weeks before I work on a story idea.
Barb: Since we were discussing this subject, I asked the Orange County Chapter Pros what they read while theyâ€™re writing. Ottilia Scherschel, who writes suspense, is of like mind. She says, â€œI always read some suspense to get my juices flowing.â€ She also reads craft books, and interestingly enough, her husbandâ€™s magazine American Hunter. She likes the website artofmanliness.com for â€œanything a man does or ever wanted to do.â€ Gotta check that one out!
Joyce Ward also stayed within her genre when she started writing paranormals, but like you, enjoys a change of pace with other genres. Erin Pryor says, â€œI tend to read things that are related to whatever I’m struggling with while writing…so, if I’m working on a mystery element I’ll read full-on mysteries, if I’m working on an action scene I often turn to sci-fi/fantasy. Contemporaries for friendship and banter, 19th century novels when I’m worried about tone and manners.â€
Jann: Erin has a good idea mixing the genres to draw on their various strengths.
Barb: Now, Mary Kozlowski writes contemporaries, but loves reading Regencies. She says she can keep a pretty consistent voice, so is not affected by reading in another genre. And this reading your husbandâ€™s magazines must be catching on. She reads her husbandâ€™s VFW, American Legion and NRA mags because â€œthey have lots of interesting articles about real heroes.â€
Roy (Griff) Griffis also reads outside his genre. As he says, â€œI don’t want to read anything in a similar genre to avoid contaminating my vision and voice.â€ Research is the focus of Dolores Elseâ€™s reading, both for accurate historical information and to get a feel for the time period.
Jann: I have a couple of story ideas that require substantial research, and have put them aside for awhile. What I need to be doing is â€œwriting what I knowâ€ for now. Research can be a lot of fun, but it can be very time consuming if youâ€™re not careful.
Barb: I know what you mean. Been there. Researching is not writing.
Shauna Roberts, who I know would use her time wisely, finds herself so interested in some of her background research topics that she will keep reading about them after her book is finished. She also will read articles and how-to books on the craft of writing to reinforce her writing skills. She reads in different genres regardless of her writing, so I assume they donâ€™t influence her voice.
Jann: The Pros have some great comments, and itâ€™s interesting to see what others do.I better get back to my WIP. Remember those goals we talked about a couple of months ago? Well, I just set one with our critique group at our last gathering that Iâ€™ve got to make.
Barb and Jann, I always have a WIP and I'm always reading…whatever! I don't connect the two. When I do research – it's funny – I don't consider that "reading" – I actually consider it "writing."
You mentioned Sandy Chvostal, aka Sandra Paul – she has a scene in her very first book, Last Chance for Marriage, in which the hero and heroine are talking about two totally different things, only they do not realize it. I NEVER laughed so hard reading a book in my life! She set up the misunderstanding PERFECTLY!!! Her other books have moments that crack me up as well. And Domesticating Luc? That one had me sobbing, the scene with the dog and the glove.
on May 3, 2012
Thaks for the comment. I'm afraid I'm not disciplined enough with the research. The heroine of one book I wrote was a mycology professor and she had a research station in the Northwest. I spent way too many hours studying mushrooms, rsearch methods and the flora and fauna of that region. It was fun, though!
on May 2, 2012
I like to read the same genre as I'm writing, although I read a lot of historical and I haven't tackled that yet. As for research, I've found that I write my story, doing very little research as I go, then go back and fill in any research holes as I'm editing.