Read and write. That’s how novelists get better. They read a lot of fiction and they write fiction. They try to improve their writing. They admit they have weaknesses, and they try to improve those, and they try to do what they do well better. Did I mention, they read.
I’ve had would-be writers, more than once, say to me, without embarrassment, that they want to be a writer but don’t read.
“Why would you want to be a writer?” I ask because, well, I’d like to know.
“Well,” they sputter,” I-I just do. I just—you know--I want to write.”
Now they haven’t given the most ridiculous answer, which would be they want to be famous and make tons of money and never wear anything but pajamas like Hugh Heffner. Still, I don’t get it.
“I don’t know, I have something to say.”
Okay, I get that. I do. But if a person doesn’t read fiction, they shouldn’t expect anyone else to read their fiction. I’m not talking about cosmic justice here, though, come to think of it, there is that. It’s just that the writer won’t have a clue about even the basics of fiction writing unless they read. I don’t know one writer who doesn’t love to read.
Writing is like learning to be a musician or a baseball player. It’s an art and a skill. You learn by doing and by learning from teachers and your teachers are the writers who have written works that move you.
Or so I think today.