Daily Archives: November 18, 2013

Reading Outside the Genre

I used to get advice about how I needed to read outside my genre, and I didn’t.

I used to get advice about studying other writers for technique, too, and I at least understood that — thanks to Dr. Karl Barnaby’s great class on writing techniques I learned how to slow down to see how the sentences work, and to examine why THIS particular action scene was so effective.

One of the reasons that I thought I didn’t need to read outside my genre was because there was so much of my genre yet to read (and the genre’s even larger now). It’s always good to understand the history of your genre if you’re going to be working in it. But I think the other reasons were laziness, arrogance, and no good sign posts. Who can you trust about what’s really worth your time? You have to be careful. I mean, every crappy science fiction series gets devoted fans, which is why I didn’t try Firefly (and discover how wonderful it was) for years.

This is all leading to a simple recommendation. I, personally, recommend to fantasy fans that they need to read a few books outside of their genre by Donald Westlake writing under the Richard Stark pseudonym.

Back when I was recovering from my knee surgery I finally dug out some books my buddy John Hocking had sent me, and one of them was the first Parker novel, by “Richard Stark.”