One of my favorite writing quotes comes from George Orwell who said, “Good writing is like a windowpane.” His quote is a simple statement, yet it conjures up a vision of looking into others’ lives and watching them as they navigate through good times and bad. But how does reading make one a better writer, one who creates stories a reader can immerse themselves in? Reading.
That’s it—simply by reading? Well, yes. Reading is a tool by which a writer can improve all aspects of his craft. Reading can take one on endless journeys into places they’d dare never go in real life—dangerous cities, war-torn countries, dystopian societies, or serene romantic settings that inspire and relax. A good story compels us to continue to read, and if the tale is particularly intriguing and engrossing, we are sad when the journey ends.
So how does reading help one to write better? Frankly, through osmosis. A good reader notices the style of other writers. Good readers read with an analytical mind—they watch and learn how an author develops things such as characters, fictional places, themes, conflicts, plots, and subplots. Readers become better writers themselves by paying attention to how other writers use words to create tension, or explain feelings and motives.
Want to become better, quickly? Write book reviews. Becoming a book reviewer causes you to pay close attention to style, plot and character development, etc. Reviewing someone’s work is much different from reading a novel for enjoyment. One must read with a critical eye and then be able to articulate why the story was good, bad, or whether to recommend it or not.
Become an avid reader. Read every day. With ereaders and apps for smart phones, reading books has become easier and more convenient than ever. Get into the habit of reading if you want to become a better writer.