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Writing Hack: Read More Novels.

Learning does not have a single form.


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Aranza Sánchez

a year ago | 3 min read

As a child, I enjoyed reading mystery novels. I liked them so much that when I arrived at a bookstore I would go directly to that section and take the time to read the back cover so I could choose wisely.

The truth is that I never regretted buying any book. I faithfully believe that if you approach a book to enjoy it and learn something from it, you will certainly do so.

I remember very much the first mystery book I read: The ghosts of Pico de Cuervos. Although I keep many books that I love, that is probably the one I treasure the most.

Author’s image.
Author’s image.

Now that I look back on it, that book was the first of many that influenced my writing and my own tastes.

Finding your style.

The narrative in that book revolved around a character that no one knew. The characters were found in the shadows and under different scenarios, but they never managed to see his face or hear his voice.

That gave a lot of room to the imagination.

The way in which the author handled the mystery seemed to be a genius. Children’s stories seem much more complex to me. Not only do you have to know perfectly the elements within your narrative, but -literally- you have to juggle them so that they don’t become boring. Let’s remember that a child gets bored very easily.

What you consume ends up shaping your perspective.

For me, starting to read mystery novels made a huge impact. Through the lines, I began to understand that there were many questions in the world that were answered, but many others where everything is unknown to us. This idea made my head explode, and for that reason, I began to have a lot of interest in that which involved mystery.

All this began to permeate my writing. Analyzing the poems I had written, I realized that in almost all of them there was an attempt to provoke that intrigue in the reader. I also tended to repeat a single element throughout the poem but this was usually very confusing.

The novels I read as a child were the ones that later made me set up a very specific writing style.

There is nothing wrong with imitation.

Although reading is essential to writing, there was a time when I had to break away and dare to do it. I still have a lot to understand and improve, but I have made a lot of progress.

Without a doubt, what has helped me most in writing is imitating different styles. That’s why I’ve found it very useful to read different genres, novels, and authors. Even those I don’t like.

Here is a small list of things you can find in novels that will nourish your writing style:

  1. Your mind finds comfort in the structure. When you are writing or creating a story, you will intuitively seek to follow a line.
  2. The use of adjectives. Each person is used to certain adjectives and sometimes it is very difficult for us to get out of a few of them. Reading different adjectives in an author and their way of using them helps us to integrate them into our writing.
  3. An idea can be said in many ways. When we discover an author’s specific style, it also opens up a new perspective on how an idea can be expressed. Perhaps very different from the way we would have said it.
  4. Evoking feelings. In a text, the choice of words is very important to evoke specific emotions and feelings. Sometimes this is achieved by being very descriptive about the setting or the way a character feels.
  5. Perspectives. The fact of living in first person the life of a character or reading about different topics that we find within a narrative, allows us to situate ourselves in different perspectives regarding a topic.

The novels we read impregnate our way of seeing things, and therefore, of writing. In that sense, I think it is very real that when we read a book, at the same time, we are getting to know ourselves.

Let yourself be caught up in a novel.

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