Saturday, October 1, 2016

Do You Write What You Read?

Happy October! Due to the fact that this trending question popped up in my face three times this week, I'm posting on it!



The first place it showed up was Go Teen Writers in a post by Stephanie Morrill. It got me thinking, I commented, and moved on.

When it appeared in an article Writer's Digest e-mailed me, I was forced to think about it again. Coincidence?

Then it came up while reading Just Write by James Scott Bell yesterday afternoon. He said: "I love reading [criminal suspense], so that's mostly what I write."

You're probably wondering what the big deal is. The big deal is I had to wrestle with whether I write what I read or not. I would have said no at the beginning of the week because so far all I write is Christian Contemporary and it's been a solid year since I've read anything in that genre. I was shocked when my brain had inspiration within this genre.

But the more I thought about it, I used to read a ton of stuff like this! Not always contemporary, but always the clean romance by the end of it. Janette Oke, Grace Livingston Hill, Laura Ingalls Wilder . . . yeah. Those consumed my tween years, you guys. Then I moved on to Beverly Lewis and became obsessed with the Amish. (I'm actually struggling to think of any books like this I've read that are contemporary?)

The reason I read very little of this anymore is not because I don't like to have a fresh story in a cute setting with a clean romance when all is said and done. I do. Hallmark can speak my language. But you know how there's just that thing that goes with Hallmark? Things that you cover your eyes and laugh at and try to erase from your mind? While I can still love a Hallmark movie even with that, I have a much harder time enjoying books like that anymore! I have labored through Janette Oke's Return to the Canadian West series because it all feels so flat and fake to me. Which is sad because the original Canadian West is one of my favorite series ever.

Back to the point: do I really write what I read? I suppose so. Because even though there is depth, conflict, and flare lacking to some of the stories I would have devoured without a second thought five years ago, I still got the passion to write a story very similar.

Why?

Well, obviously because I read enough of them, they are a part of me. I will forever love Laura and Almanzo, Elizabeth and Wynn. They're really sweet and inspiring! But it comes down to the fact that I absorbed enough of the Christian Romance genre, well done and not, that I know what I would do differently.

This is how the Writer's Digest article put it: "You know what fans of this genre want, because you are a fan. You know what is a cliche and what would have you clicking that Buy button. Write the book you want to read."

So my story, Martin Hospitality, is contemporary. That's my first change just because it's me and I'm not giving myself extra research! The main character also has some real issues and isn't actually deep into the faith yet, which is unusual. I tried to add a lot of reality because I want everyone who picks it up and reads even a tiny portion to feel connected. Sometimes a Christian romance novel can transport me, but not engage me. I think there's a difference there. And I am also going different with my cover if I can. Because I heartily dislike most Christian Fiction covers. Not because they're bad, but because they don't do anything for my imagination except give me a face and the cute little house in the background that I can't get out of my head while reading.

I never thought I'd write Christian Contemporary because it's what I have felt done reading for a while. But now I believe it's for that exact same reason that God gave me that really bizarre dream  about a pregnant blonde and a really awesome farmer (after reading a Beverly Lewis novel). Thank goodness Someone knows what they're doing.

Perhaps you're like me: You don't write what you read, you write what you've read. Tweet this!

~~~~~

What are the main two genres you read or have read? Think about it. Do you write in them, too? If not, I encourage you to consider giving it a shot sometime! And happy fall! My favorite time of the year is finally here! :)





18 comments:

  1. This was a great post! I used to read more Fantasy and just modern day fiction, but recently I have started liking Science and some Historical fiction more.
    I have written a fantasy novel and a modern day one and am in the process of writing a modern day and Dystopian one so I guess I am just all over the place. XP

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    1. Haha, sounds like me. I read and can enjoy a little of everything. So that's what I write, too. The main limitation is Christian Fiction. Otherwise... :P

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  2. This is a really great post! I mainly read contemporaries and mysteries, and that's also what I write, so..:)

    Although I also love to read historical fiction, and that's just far too stressful to write.

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    1. Thanks :) Perfect!! You fit into the mold, haha!

      Ah, see I love most of that genre but YES the research that goes into it!! I've had to a ton of research just for Martin Hospitality, so I can't even imagine D: But someday I will do something Biblical Historical Fiction ^.^

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  3. I mainly read contemporary YA and historical fiction.

    I mainly write contemporary but I'm trying to finish a mystery/thriller but I know I won't have much time to complete it this year.

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    1. Interesting. So you mostly fall in line with what you read and write :) I definitely stray some! :P

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  4. How interesting, Abi! I've noticed something similar in my own writing journey. My first novella was a mystery...very similar to books that I read in my childhood years like The Sugar Creek Gang and The Boxcar Children. I don't read mysteries anymore...but the story just come to me. So I wrote it. =) I never thought (or think!) of myself as a mystery/suspense writer because that is not how I read. But...I'll probably write a few more in the future. ;)

    My favorite genre is historical fiction which is what my WIP is! I find it almost like taking the stories that God already wrote and showing them to others through my own words. It blows my mind away how many amazing stories are out there, and every one was written by God Himself!! It's a huge blessing to find those gems and turn them into "my own" stories. ♥

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    1. Yes, that's very similar! That just goes to show how much what you read especially as a child really affects you :) It's so fascinating how much that equips us as a writer subconsciously!

      That's a good point. They say there are only a few stories and a writer's job is to reinvent them in an appealing way. Having God work through us can certainly add something new! And I can attest to the fact that my novel--even wile still a draft--has already become much more than I EVER expected. :D

      This journey is so amazing, isn't it? Can't wait to grow in it with you :)

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  5. Ahhh fall is my favorite too! <3 And WOW THIS POST. *aggressively hugs* Wow. I never thought about it quite like this before. But the books that inspired me to write were Harry Potter and the magic tree house books. I also love the Last Airbender TV show. And Percy Jackson. I grew up watching Lord of the Rings. And now, I love to write fantasy in magical worlds. And I see how it all has impacted me.

    Such a smart post!

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    1. YES FALL!! *cough*

      Aw, thanks :) It was a mental breakthrough for me, haha! Your childhood influences and present writings influence each other so neatly ^.^ I still haven't figured out what genre most of my stories are :P At least Christian Fiction. If I turn "Martin Hospitality" into a series, though, it will be interesting to see how I can grow in a genre I don't even really enjoy reading anymore!!!

      Thanks again. You're so sweet ^.^

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  6. First...OHMYGOODNESS YES! I love fall sooo much. <3

    I read mostly historical fiction and write mostly...historical fiction. (Oh, how boring, Faith.) But, I do tend to get ideas in different genres after rising something from that. For example, I was reading a fantasy series earlier this year and then came up with an idea for a fantasy story. Quite different from the books, but fantasy nevertheless. :P

    Great post, Abi!

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    1. I KNOW! I don't understand people who dislike it. The whole atmosphere is so exciting and invigorating ^.^

      Yes, what I am around definitely influences what my brain comes up with. It's been mostly interesting dreams that bring some sort of new inspiration in a place I never would have thought of. But that explains why plotting is so hard as well :P

      Thank you :) <3

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  7. What a great question to ponder. I for sure read the most fantasy and that has heavily inspired nearly all my writing. Lately I've also read a lot of more contemporary and popular fiction, I've felt that inspiring me as well.
    Really great post! I'm glad you are tackling the Christian Contemporary genre head-on!

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    1. Isn't it? I thought so, too :) It's no wonder my brain is all over the place since I read such a wide variety :D Perhaps I should hone in on a genre of reading when I know what I'm writing next for inspiration ;)

      Thank you! It's been a very unique and rewarding challenge :)

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  8. Laura and Almanzo are one of the first "pairs" I've been exposed to as a kid, so the fact that you wrote about them made me squeal in my seat. I tend to write fantasy novels, which is funny, because now all I can read are contemporaries and historical fictions-- although, as a kid, fantasy was the only genre I'd manage reading, which does make sense. What we've read (past tense!) does have a huge impact on us.

    xoxo Morning

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    1. Aw, I know!! They make me so happy :D

      Yes! I'll have to do selective genre reading now depending on what I'm writing and see how much that helps me ;)

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  9. I read a TON of speculative fiction - and that's mostly what I write XD. It's just so fun!

    ~ Savannah
    scattered-scribblings.blogspot.com

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    1. Well perfect! Not too hard to figure you out, then ;) I really need to research genre breakdowns so I at least know what I'm writing/reading and can track it better then :)

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