Have you ever heard the saying “Garbage in, garbage out”? If you haven’t, basically it just means that, if you take in bad material or thoughts, the same will be produced through your own thoughts and actions.
The opposite is also true.
Take in good material, and good will be produced.
Writers are influenced by the world around us in this exact same way – especially by the stories we read.
Did you know that you take on traits of five of the closest people to you?
Or have you ever noticed how you start to say some of the things or act the same way as a character in a movie, or a person whose blog you read or whose videos you watch?
As much as we like to joke about writers being hermits, we are actually greatly influenced by the world around us. It’s just a matter of being human.
Have you ever heard of fan fiction? It’s when fans of a book, movie, or show will write stories (fiction) on the story, using the characters in it. They take in the content, and put out that content.
That’s a very literal example, but you get the idea.
5 Things That Are Affected By What We Read
There’s a plethora of things influenced by what we read. They sound kind of small on their own, but when you really stop and think about each of them – and all of them together – you really start to get the idea of exactly how much we’re being influenced.
Our Writing Style
The style of our writing is severely influenced by the world around us. By those we hang out with, by what we watch, and especially by what we read. The words on this blog and the words in my story are my mental dialogue. They follow my mental train of thought. Thoughts can sometimes be to complicated to follow or write down in an understandable way the first time, and that’s why we have to edit things. Sometimes, I read back over my writing, and I find that I literally jumped ahead in whatever I was writing without finishing something because my thoughts had run away with me.
Those conversations we hear?
Those things we watch?
Those books we read?
More mental dialogue.
And they all can influence our own mental dialogue, which in turn can change how we write.
On the outside, I am a very polite person. But inside my own head, I’m constantly sassing myself and everything around me – and it shows in my writing, because my characters make fun of things or have banter that I look back on fondly.
The style of our writing is our own, but depending on what you take in, it’ll come out differently.
Much like our mental dialogue – and hence the way we write – our character’s voices can change based on what we read.
Going back to the example of a fan fiction writer, they’re going to try and copy the way a character speaks as best as they can. If they’re a very cruel character, the voice of the character is going to sound like that. If they’re the sweetest thing ever, they’re going to sound like that.
When I first began writing seriously, it was after I’d started reading the series The Ranger’s Apprentice. The characters in that book can be very sassy toward each other, and I tried to emulate that.
If we enjoy something, then we try to copy it. We see something we like, and we inadvertently begin to ‘copy it’. We like it, so we do it too.
Here’s the one that really got me started on this blog post in the first place.
The books we read can affect the genre we write. The more books in that particular genre we read, the more proficient we become in it for the simple fact that we know it better.
I really began thinking about this because I reread an old series that I haven’t for years called The Blackwell Pages. After getting used to the style of the writer, it was kind of like a walk down memory lane for me. This was the stuff I pretty much grew up on. I lived and breathed these kind of stories. Fantasy, adventure, but like, ones with magic, abilities to shapeshift, mythology, world-building, betrayal, trust, fantastical creatures, and a hefty dose of sass.
It was while I was getting close to finishing the stories that I began to work on some brainstorming for The Triad of Caosdif. It was pretty much in that genre I’d lived and breathed upon for so much of my life, and it really took me back. 😆 I hadn’t even really realized how much the genre I wrote in had been affected by what I read until that moment.
Much like genre, the world things take place in are highly affected by what we read. If someone likes stories from during WWII, then they’ll probably write that. If they like medieval-type fantasy worlds, they’ll probably write in that (just like I did). If they read contemporary, then they’ll probably write in that.
You get the idea.
Point of View
Point of view (or POV for short) affects the story more than most people can guess. There’s 3 types: 1st person (I, me) 2nd person (you) and 3rd person (she, he). The majority of people do not write in 2nd person – because while we want the reader to be the character’s shoes, they are not usually the character.
But 1st person and 3rd person show the story from entirely different perspectives. Not only that, but there are sub-categories for 3rd person. Perhaps a subject for my next blog post? 😉
But either way, the POV you use will slightly alter the way you deliver your story. If you read a lot of stories with 1st person POV, you’ll probably use that – same for 3rd person. It’s just for the fact that you’re used to it, and therefore, it’s the easiest to slide into.
Now, take each of these. Imagine how much, all together, they would affect your book.
The way you tell it through your writing voice.
The way your characters tell it through their voices.
The type of story it is – the genre it’s in.
The world that it takes place in.
The point of view you show it to the readers through.
That can change an entire story.
Do you get now how much what you read can affect what you write?
When deciding what to read, there are two ways to go: read as much as possible, or be as selective as possible. Honestly, I’m not personally changing any of my reading habits. I just kind of read what I want. 😆 That’s kind of the best way possible to go about it, in my opinion. If you like what you read, you’re going to end up writing what you like. 😉
It’s a well-known fact that, as a writer, you must take in good books if you ever want to be a good writer. Now, that fact makes even more sense, seeing as what we read can directly affect what we write.
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What do you like to read?
Have you ever noticed how much what you read affects what you write?
What types of books did you used to read?