This is the first in a series of three insightful pieces from guest blogger, Linda Sue Park.
Read. That's the single best thing an aspiring writer can do for his or her work. I once heard an editor say, “Read a thousand books of the genre you're interested in. THEN write yours.”I was astonished and pleased to hear her say this—because that's exactly what I did. During the years when I had no thought of writing for children (see Biography), I read and read and read. Middle-grade novels. Hundreds of them—easily more than a thousand. Then I wrote mine—and it sold on its first submission. Luck? Coincidence? Maybe ... but I doubt it.My personal reading list draws from a wide variety of genres. I love middle-grade novels best, but I also read Young Adult novels and picture books. I read adult literary fiction, mysteries and nonfiction. I read poetry. I love books on food and travel. Whether a wondrous story or a hilarious passage of dialogue or a beautiful sentence or a memorable image, every bit of reading I do helps my own writing. The rhythm of language and the way words combine to communicate more than their dictionary meanings infuse the serious reader's mind and emerge transformed when that reader sits down to write.That's really the best possible advice I could give any writer—read. But I find that folks are often disappointed with this advice, so I'll offer a few more basic tips.Writing is a highly personal, idiosyncratic endeavor. Advice that works for one writer may not work for another. Still, I love reading about how other writers work, and in doing so I found the two most important tools I use in my own writing. (Please note that these are probably more relevant for those who write novels or other longer works.)
Copyright 2000 @ Linda Sue Park, used by permission only.