Mrs. Knoss, an influential, grade school teacher, said to me: “You can’t start breaking all the rules until you know what they are and understand them.” One of her methods for learning the rules: Reading.
Reading indulges your writer within; it’s also one of the best ways to improve and enhance your writing craft. Whether you write fiction, nonfiction, or poetry, a little searching at your favorite online bookseller or through the stacks of your local library will return a plethora of books that will help you improve your style and abilities.
Want to learn how to write a book proposal or query, improve your characters and plot development, better understand structure and style, or if you need a little grammar help, read books on the subject. Understanding the basics is important if you hope to turn your writing hobby into a career. Yet, there’s no reason to reinvent the wheel. Reading will help you learn from experts who have gone before you. After all, there’s no way to successfully break the rules if you don’t fully understand them.
Your reading time shouldn’t only be technical. Reading books, articles or poems in your style and genre is also important. Experiencing the successful execution of solid style and technique is both enjoyable and educational. It gives writers a goal, something to strive for.
So, take Mrs. Knoss’s advice, learn the rules before you break them. Combine a strong technical foundation with an understanding of how others are applying this foundation to your genre. This will help you discover your own writer’s voice and allow your personal style to come through more clearly.