Thursday, April 4, 2013

Blog Chain: How I Became a Soap-Making Psychic with Well-Rested Babies (or The Usefulness of Non-Fiction)

Sandra's topic:

We all know it's important to read fiction if you want to write fiction, but what about reading non-fiction? How much non-fiction do you read? What kinds of non-fiction books do you read, and why? Has reading non-fiction influenced your fiction writing style?

I've read a lot of non-fiction in the past from soap-making to unlocking my psychic powers to getting my babies to sleep through the night. I find it very useful, and it tends to stay with me longer in book format than the many articles I graze over during my quality time with my computer.

As far as non-fiction for writers, I'm definitely a fan, as evidenced by my double-parked bookshelves filled with writerly how-to's. My problem is reading non-fic for writers in one straight sitting. I can't. It inspires me too much. I'll read a couple chapters and have to stop to write, even if the author didn't purposely give me an assignment (which, let's face it, they always do). 

The easiest writing book to read in one sitting is probably Lynne Truss's Eats, Shoots and Leaves, but that's because it's about punctuation and doesn't require any practice breaks at all, just a sense of humor and a willingness to read about... punctuation. It's probably one of my favorite non-fiction books of all time.

I've recently read Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass, and that was massively helpful. I took copious notes, came up with several new story ideas and added meaningful scenes to my current WIP's. But it was also exhausting.

I guess I prefer to learn the craft of writing from voracious fiction-reading. Though I've learned quite a bit about writing from good memoirists and biographers, too. And the conversational feel of much adult non-fiction lends itself well to YA fiction, too. So there's that.

What non-fiction books have triggered your writing reflex? Which ones have taught you something?

Catch up with Christine Fonseca to see yesterday's blog chain post,

and check out Demitria Lunetta's tomorrow.

Read my Afterglow review of Chasers (Alone #1) by James Phelan.Katrina's blog pic


  1. Love the title of your post! That's quite a diverse range!

  2. I LOVE Eats, Shoots and Leaves! I actually have the paperback copy and just recently lent it to a friend telling her it would be the funniest book on punctuation she will ever read.


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