Supporting Your Writing Life, Uncategorized

5 Benefits of Reading Outside of Your Preferred Genre

Hey, did anyone else notice I missed Thursday’s post…?

It is now Sunday evening, 11pm (the “Golden Hour” for a lot of Creatives out there,) and I’ve only just realized I’d completely forgotten about it. Totally blew it off. Never even bothered to jot down a scribble. Dang!

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I’ll tell you something. I am a master procrastinator and not ashamed to admit to you that as of this morning (Sunday,) I had no idea what I’d be sharing in today’s post. Try as I might to train myself to schedule posts in advance, I am compulsively one of those people whose workflow is massively improved by cramming it all inunder last-minute pressure. Some of you are nodding your heads right now.

The Book

My saving grace came when I remembered the book I’d bought on a whim from my library’s $1 shelf. After dropping close to $150 on ThriftBooks.com, I thought one more wouldn’t break the bank.

My Italian Bulldozer, is what it’s titled. I still don’t know much about it, honestly. But as soon as I picked it off the shelf, it felt like it would be a romance novel. Steadfast Romance lovers, I’m sure you would have sniffed that out for yourselves from the title alone, but for someone who has at best only dabbled in the genre, it took the back blurb flat-out telling me ‘an intensely satisfying love story’ to convince me I was in the wrong department. I’m a little scared of what I’ve gotten myself into.

But I didn’t lay down a whole Washington to be given the tingles by a sizzling romance, so it doesn’t matter; I came for my own education.

The blurb mentions the protagonist, Paul Stewart, is a ‘renowned food writer.’ That excited me because I enjoy when writers utilize the oft-times neglected sense of Taste, basting the page with savory descriptions of native cuisine. I would like to incorporate the skill more often into my own writing; I have several ‘foodie’ characters and it would suit their POVs well to have delicious accounts of meals shared with family, friends, and foes.

The second gem that caught my attention was the setting this novel is placed in. One of my POV characters in my WIP is Italian-American and I’ve been interested in getting my hands on just about anything to do with Italy and its culture. Though I can’t rely solely on the veracity of Mr. Smith’s account of what Italy and its people are like, I can use his words as a springboard to come up with my own way of describing the places my Rafael has been to. (See #2 below.)

Five Benefits I’ve Gained from Reading Diversely

  1. The chance to study a new plot structure. Let’s say all that you love to read is Epic Fantasy. Then you would be very familiar with the Hero’s Journey plot structure. While the Hero’s Journey is widely adaptable to every genre and sub-genre, Romance and Mystery rarely use it as a core plot structure. The strength of those two genres lies in character growth and planting red herrings, respectively, so if you’re working a mystery into your main plot or an arc of character growth into a subplot, keep these genres in mind for a quick study. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you can check out K.M. Weiland’s series on the topic.
  1. A new style of storytelling. A Romance novel is going to use its language differently than a Cold War spy novel. You will be introduced to a totally different sense of emotion and fragility when you swap between the two, and this can be very helpful in writing from the POV of characters who are either more emotionally aware, or more emotionally closed-off, than their counterparts.
  1. You’ll learn something unexpected. I’m not sure what it will be, and neither are you, but you had better have a pen and paper when it hits you!
  2. You’ll get the chance to study new themes. While a spy novel might deal with Corruption of Humanity, a romance novel will likely deal with problems closer to home, such as Self-Acceptance.
  3. It can launch you out of Writer’s Block. If you’ve been stuck in the same rut for a while, you know that spinning your wheels in the same direction again and again is only going to dig you down deeper. So if you’re writing something intense, try taking a step back to enjoy a Cozy Mystery. Or if you’ve been trying to plot your way out of a love triangle, why don’t you read a book where lots of dark creepy things are going on? Getting a change of perspective can help you enjoy stories again, rather than making your Inner Critic compare your own writing to peers in your genre.

That’s all I’ve got for today. Whew! Only 12:30 am. Thanks for reading, and good luck!

RJ

Have you read My Italian Bulldozer? Have you ever gone out of your way to read a book to study something about it? Let me know!

Stay tuned for Thursday’s post. We’ll be exploring how to write a theme that resonates with you for a greater impact on your readers.

5 benefits

4 thoughts on “5 Benefits of Reading Outside of Your Preferred Genre”

  1. This was a great post! I’ve never even considered the fact that reading outside your genre opens you up to different plot structures. I definitely need to read more outside of YA, but there are so many YA books I want to read, I have difficulty finding time for other books.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Madeline! Thanks for taking the time to comment. 😀 I love to hear when my posts are useful. I’m on the fence about regarding YA as a “genre” of its own, since I can think of a few psychological thrillers, romances, and mysteries in that demographic off the top of my head, so you should be A-okay to find something new! If you haven’t tried this before, take a look at Amazon’s sub-genre lists. They can get as technical as “supernatural cyberpunk romance”! Here is the landing page for Teen & YA mysteries and thrillers. https://amzn.to/2ojiEFv There are sub-genres on the left-hand side that narrow it down even further, including Fantasy & Supernatural, and Romance—still under Mysteries and Thrillers. Go back to the landing page for all YA books and you’ll be able to do the same thing for each major genre. 😉 Happy hunting!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re very welcome! There are some amazing titles in YA fiction. There’s a book club near me that hosts a “YA for adults” night. I will be adding a lot of YA titles to my own TBR as soon as I make good use of the stack (small fortune) currently sitting on my desk. 🤣 Enjoy!

        Liked by 1 person

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