Good writing comes from good reading. I’m pretty sure I heard that somewhere. The idea behind it is that a fundamental aspect of writing is having read oodles of things. Basically, every time you read something, either good or bad, you gain some insight in to what makes a good writer. Obviously, reading what is good gives you something to aspire to while reading what is bad gives you pointers on things to avoid. I’m currently juggling three novels, and of course far too many comics. What are they teaching me.
Let’s get the worst out of the way. Last year I decided to give John Grisham a shake. I haven’t quit figured out what his appeal is. Mostly I have found his characters unlikeable and the writing fairly sexist. The plots have been okay but, the journey getting to the end is rather painful. I started with his first, A Time to Kill, and got to The Partner. I don’t know if I’ll finish this one. I should, but it just feels like more of the same. Still, it has served as popcorn reads.
Next on the list is Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley. This was recommended to me. I can certainly say that Hurley has been more enjoyable when it comes to style that Grisham. She really has a talent with words. But for some reason I just haven’t been able to really get into it. Now, the story has been rather slow. I feel as much energy has been spent on world building as advancing the plot and characters. But, honestly, I think part of the problem is names. Almost all of the names and naming conventions are so chunky. I feel that every time I pick up the book I have to try hard to remember who or where any of the action is happening. And then I fight through a chapter just to have not much happen. Still, the world being presented is very rich, and I can see a lot of great things happening, but I just feel like I keep getting pushed out. Probably a book that benefits from multiple readings, if I can get through the first.
Lastly is Shinju by Laura Joh Rowland. This has been a real page turner. But it also happens to be right up my wheelhouse. Some detective fiction (check) set in Edo period Japan (check). I love the flow of the story and the style is very readable. Just a quick page turner. It feels very authentic without being heavy handed in the descriptions. Certainly the most enjoyable of the three. Also has the benefit of being different enough from what I write so that it doesn’t interfere with my own creative process.