I find that writing outside my usual genre is a fantastic educational exercise, but reading outside my mystery genre is essential. It’s not a choice. It is a necessity. I read historical fiction, thrillers, horror, romantic suspense, literary fiction, fantasy, science fiction, non-fiction, history, biography, poetry, and everything/anything else. I’ve discovered that simply reading OUTSIDE my comfort zone, improves the writing I do within it.
Why is this so?
I can only guess that it’s the experience of unchartered, unfamiliar territory that expands my palette of literary colors. The use of language varies from genre-to-genre, the pacing of stories, and the specificity of descriptive text, too. Nothing—not even narrow sub-genres like cozy mysteries—are written in a vacuum. The terse prose of a noir detective, the poetic dialog of lovers in a historical romance, and the created languages of alien species on science fiction, all contribute to the crazy quilt in my head.
The further I venture as a reader, the more adventurous I become as a writer. It’s a win/win all around. I’m about to spend three weeks traveling, with my Kindle “fat” with all sorts of books. Long plane rides are nothing when I have a huge library in my bag. I’ll be reading a variety pack of genres, styles, eras, and authors.
What have you read lately that has pushed your boundaries?