Writer’s Corner: Breadth
Every writer has ideas, both unique and borrowed, and nearly all of your ideas have a basis in what you have absorbed from whatever media you prefer to consume. If you read and watch a lot of fantasy material, there’s a very solid chance that you have a lot more ideas for fantasy than you do for, say, romance. Not to say the two don’t overlap, but you know what I mean!
Even within the realm of one genre, however, you will find that reading a variety of authors’ works will give you a taste for different themes within that genre. If we take the example of fantasy, you could read a book by Christopher Paolini and discover how he might write a vast world of swords and sorcery (Eragon), while reading a Neil Gaiman book might drop you into a mystical Faerie land where the very rules of the land feel vastly different from those of our own (Stardust).
While you may not enjoy writing about a Faerie world, there is still a lot one can learn about worldbuilding from a novel such as Gaiman’s that you wouldn’t otherwise get from a swords and sorcery novel. By combining your knowledge of all the worlds you have “visited”, you develop a world that is much more diverse than if you base it solely on the knowledge of one author’s imaginings alone.
This is one of the reasons I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the writing courses I took in university. There were many eager and willing writers who were hungry for new stories and fresh ideas. I got to read a plethora of interesting ideas in short-story form while also receiving some great feedback in return. I had the feeling that while I was in these workshops, my creativity came the easiest of any time I ever sat down to write. Enthusiasm was great, and ideas flowed freely.
After university, there was a period of time when I got into a fairly deep writing rut. Ideas simply didn’t come to me the way they used to and that was frustrating to me. It didn’t occur to me that the ideas dried up because I had also stopped reading novels. I was creative because I was keeping my brain active and didn’t let it get lazy. Your brain is a muscle just like the rest of your body, you have to keep it fit for it to be functioning at peak performance!
The last little while has shown me the power reading different authors has on your creative brain. The last few books I have read came from Suzanne Collins, Christopher Paolini, Neil Gaiman, Andy Weir, and now Margaret Atwood. Each author came with fresh perspectives and styles, and the large breadth that comes with it is refreshing and exciting. Some of these authors I have read before, some were the first novel I had the pleasure of reading from them. All this mental exercise has left my writing brain open and awake in a state I haven’t felt since I graduated! It’s a very liberating feeling.
If you’re looking for inspiration, my latest best advice is to pick up an author you’ve never tried before. Broaden your horizons, visit new worlds that you have never seen before. Read the reviews, find what speaks to you.
You never know when a book will catch your attention. Or better yet, inspire you to catch the attention of others.Follow: