Write the Book You Want to Read

IMAGEN_5Source: morgueFile

For the longest time, I never knew what that phrase meant. “Write the book you want to read.”

I mean, I understood it at face value, but I always scoffed at it.

Don’t get me wrong, I love all the books I’m working on, for different reasons. But there are so many books out there I love to read, what’s the point of writing for the sake of simply enjoying my own ideas?

This past week, as I was reading a few different MG and YA books, a thought walloped me upside the head.

I always thought the above quote was referencing plot. Write the type of plot you’d want to read. But I realized, why can’t it mean style? POV? Syntax? Voice?

It can!

Lately I’ve been frustrated with MG books. That’s what my current focus is in my own writing, so I’ve been reading a lot of MG books. In my life, I know I’ve read hundreds of MG books, but maybe because I’m writing more, I see so many things I’m unsure of in other peoples’ writing.

There seems to be an onslaught of writing for kids that tries too hard to be fancy. To use words and sentence lengths and paragraph lengths that seem more suited to adult fiction. My good friend at BumblesBooks said that so many writers now are trying to write MG books with the idea that they will also appeal to adults. And she’s right! What? Middle grade is for KIDS! Hello! Adults may enjoy them, but kids are the prime audience. Why would we write hoping against hope adults will also love our books?

Anywho… I kept rolling my eyes at all these super complex phrases that made me want to tear my hair out. It’s just not the genre for them.

There’s nothing wrong with expecting kids to learn as they read, or to encourage them to expand their horizons with artistic turns of phrase, but I also feel much of that is extraneous to a story. I don’t want to underestimate the potential of a MG reader to comprehend the written word, and I don’t think I do, but the current trend of voice in MG fiction is just not my cup of tea.

I realized that writing a book I’d want to read, for me, is not as much about plot as it is about style and voice. After trudging through those books by other authors, I returned to my own book and was amazed to find I much preferred my own style of writing. Simple, straight-forward, but also requiring curiosity and intuition to understand all the aspects and nuances of the plot.

I adore the classics and high literary books, but that’s just not how I write, and I love that! I’ll never write the next Great American Novel (which I think is a ridiculous phrase), and I’m not trying to.

Embrace your style and your voice, writers! They’re the most unique parts of your writing. There are only so many plot-types in the world, but your voice is your own.

Write the book you want to read, in the style you want to read, with the voice you have that is utterly unique.

Happy writing!

“Genius is the ability to reduce the complicated to the simple.” — C.W. Ceram

“Those who write clearly have readers; those who write obscurely have commentators.” — Albert Camus

“As it is my design to make those that can scarcely read understand, I shall therefore avoid every literary ornament and put it in language as plain as the alphabet.” — American revolutionary Thomas Paine

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9 thoughts on “Write the Book You Want to Read

  1. I love that you apply that maxim beyond plot. I think it gets stuck at plot so often, but you’re totally right! You have to write in the style that you would want to read, too, and that’s different for every person. That’s what makes books so interesting. 🙂

  2. I totally agree that, when writing for kids, your primary concern should be to write what they will enjoy. And also what you would want to read. The conundrum I’m often faced with, though, is to work out whether I would have enjoyed that book when I was a child, or do I only think that I would have done? Does that make sense? I think a good way is to test the book on real life children if you can (if that sounded slightly sinister, forgive me).

  3. This is my single most driving factor when I write my first drafts. After all, they’re for you only anyway. You can also think of it as part of the process: The drafts after that are all too make the reader wanna read the book you’ve also wanted to read and so that’s why you wrote it.

    But I love seeing writers come into their own this way. There’s little more gratifying. :]

    • It’s definitely more gratifying. My confidence has always dragged a bit concerning my writing, but I’m finally enjoying my own work more. It makes every word I write more personal and special. And more exciting!

  4. You make a great point here. I, too, used to think that phrase only referenced plot. It does blow my mind a bit that so many MG authors are actually secretly writing for adults. The truth is, when I’m in a certain mood or too busy to really absorb what I’m reading, I will on occasion turn to an old MG novel, just for the sole purpose of reading “something”… When I do that, I want to be able to kick back and feel like I did when I was a kid… carefree and irresponsible… I don’t want to have to “put my thinking cap on and learn something.” LOL! I guess what I’m trying to say is, there are plenty of MG books that DO appeal to adults for just being exactly what they are.

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