This is it, guys! The event we've all been waiting for. The dystopian novel that's taken the world by storm is now a major motion picture, topped with excellent reviews. Good news for all fans, right? But now, on the opening day of what is sure to be the first "must see" movie of the year, I have a confession to make:
(Please don't freak out)
I haven't read The Hunger Games yet ...
... Ah, crud ...
Hold on, guys - let me explain!
I was given a copy as a birthday gift. It's two books away on my reading list. I'll get to it in due time. The question still begs: what took me so long? It's not that I avoided it. By all means, the premise is amazing. And while it has sci-fi elements, it's not the genre I write. I didn't start Harry Potter until the 4th book, either.
... (I'm digging my own grave here ...)
... (I'm digging my own grave here ...)
Wait a second - there's more!
There are tons of genres (and sub genres), right? Each are wonderful - and better when well written. If we know the genre (and market) we're writing for, it only makes sense to read what is selling in that genre/market. My recent WiPs are YA fantasy with fairytale elements and magical realism. Naturally, I read most of Shannon Hale, Gail Carson Levine, Patricia C. Wrede, and Jessica Day George (and others). Doing so helped me capture the setting, chemistry, and feel for such a novel. Woven had dozens of Beta readers. No one has not liked it (yet).
Does this mean my homework has paid off? Am I off the hook for not reading the hottest book since sunburn?
Don't get too comfortable, sonny ...
Since I write, I don't have the same luxury as a reader. I do read, don't get me wrong. Before my writing began, I read a book a week - mostly sci-fi - with a penchant for dogfights in space (funny my first trilogy turned out that way ...). You can bet when I start writing zombies, I'll read zombie. When I begin a MG series, I'll devour MG. Write what you find interesting. Read what matches.
(It can be helpful, when you query agents, to provide titles of recent novels that compare to yours)
Now, before Hunger Games, how big was the market for dystopia? George Orwell helped pioneer the genre. We have books like The Giver that helped maintain it. Now that The Hunger Games has had it's run, there are more new dystopia titles than I've ever seen in my lifetime, like Possession and Matched (wasn't too long ago when this was the case with vampires and werewolves ...).
... Pretend I didn't say that ...
Now he's knocking Twilight - Get him!
No I'm not ... okay, maybe a little ... *runs*
Next point: If we only read the kind of books we want to write, are we in danger of following trends? Not really, unless we take a popular book series, copy the formula, and present it as something different. Learning from books and maybe transcend the genre is more like it.
That's always been my goal - learn about, know my audience, and write something new (and good).
But for extra credit, we can read genres we don't write. Have you noticed my recent book reviews are not my genre? Contemporary? Urban fantasy? Not my bag, but I still liked and learned a lot from them. I didn't think for a second that I would enjoy reading YA fantasy until my wife challenged me to write one. Guess what? I love it now! And I might just be the only guy writing fairy tale-like fantasy? Is that stopping me? No way. Maybe, just maybe, I have something unique to con-tribute.
You know what? I bet you do, too. Reading leads us to books we want to write. Let's wow the world together!
We're good now ... right, guys?
* * *
This is not the rule, just my thoughts on the matter. Time isn't always on an author's side, making regular reading tough. Choose wisely. Pick books that interest you and don't worry if you haven't read the popular favorite. It's not like its going away anytime soon.
I'm David, and guess what comes out in 360 days?
Yes. It's a fan trailer. But still!