I see so many would be writers who limit themselves to reading only one genre. To speak for myself I write in at least five genres: Fantasy, Horror, Fiction, Young Adult (Y/A) and Steampunk. All of those genres are different in their own way. I write in each one for different reasons. Sometimes it is the story that takes me away. I have grown to feel that having the story lead me and not me leading the story has made a huge difference in my writing. Having the story lead you does not mean that you should not know what you are saying. Doing research on the subject helps. I believe that is why I like writing in places that have never been, gives me the ability to create from scratch and make a world the way I would want it.
The influences for my horror writing are Anne Rice, horror movies and graphic novels. The imagery done in graphic novels is what brought me to them more than anything did. Science fiction is something that I have played with but not really done a lot. I have a few short stories; I love the genre. Young adult is something I have found myself writing when I didn’t notice. I have a story that I have written many times and that I may rewrite as a screenplay. I love the story, but every time I write the story it comes out horrible (I have written at least six different drafts of it). Although steampunk has started to become its own genre, it is mostly science fiction. The story I am writing now is very dark steampunk, bordering on a crossover with horror.
Over the last six months I have read three books, one was epic fantasy, one was science fiction and my current read is Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods”. I have books that I have started and stopped as well but I have finished the ones I listed. Taught to write mostly from books on the subject one of the things that nearly every book says is “write what you read.” Well I have a problem with that statement. If you write fantasy and only read fantasy, you limit yourself to learning from great writers.
There are many writers, if you skip them or choose not to read them it limits your ability to learn from them. One of them is Faulkner yes I said it. Faulkner is one of those writers we had to read in high school or university. Everyone who has taken a literature or writing class has had to read Faulkner. Faulkner is one of those writers we loath because of his word usage, but without seeing his word usage as well as the way he creates the story you cannot write effectively.
Another writer is Hemingway, who like Faulkner uses words well but Hemingway is not about words. Hemingway is about voice and feeling and making you care about the characters. The first time I read Hemingway’s “Farewell to Arms” I cried. Making readers care about your characters and making them believe in them is what writing is about. Without the feeling you’re just putting words together not creating a story that people will love and want to read.
In the fantasy genre (which I will say I have not read enough of) there is Tolkien, who without his elves many video games would not have characters to be played. Tolkien’s world creation is my opinion is a great example of how to world build. Not many writers have created a spoken language that some people use today.
Limiting what you read is like limiting yourself to using only two or three words to write. Sure you can do it, but no one will read it and it would be very boring. I have only been writing on a regular basis (six days a week) for the past four years and I have read many books from all genres in that time. I have read good writing and read horrible writing. I have noticed a lot more good writers lately than a couple of years ago, which is a good sign.