Saturday, January 9, 2016

Beta Reading

I love to read. There I said it. I am a bookaholoic and proud of it. I have my favorite authors like any reader I know but I also enjoy branching out and finding new authors so my addiction can continue to grow. Thats right, I said grow. I am not looking for a support group that can help me curb my problem or someone to lead me down a different path. They only group I would join would be people with more books to help me read more and more.

As an author it is vital to be a reader as well. It gets you out of your own head allowing for creativity and perspective to come in to play. When we focus solely on our own work we can lose sight of the bigger picture making our scope for storytelling extremely narrow. By taking time to enjoy books by other authors we can open our minds to new worlds, styles of writing and expand our vocabulary so our own writing can achieve new levels.

Reading can help pull us out of a rut with our own work but it is possible to find reading ruts as well. I am completely guilty of being in one for years. I read only a select few authors making my world close in on me creatively. I have followed the suggestion of reading outside your chosen genre of writing so as not to accidentally steal ideas but when you are trying to focus on a YA romance and all your read is horror and satirical fantasy it can be difficult to not pull yourself out of your own world instead of finding inspiration.

In order to combat this issue I have taken on two different reading ideas. One is the year long challenge I posted about earlier this week. It has so many different styles and genres built in that it forces you outside any comfort zone you may have settled into. On top of the variety of categories I am trying to fill a number of them with books that I never would have generally considered. There are a number of books with one word titles but I chose to read Odyssey by Homer for that category. I want to not only fulfill the requirement of the challenge but read classics and styles I have never incorporated into my bookshelf before.

The other way I have taken to reading more styles and genres is to become a beta reader for fellow authors. It is incredible to be able to hold pages of a book that isn't available to the public yet. I read stories, meet characters and go on adventures with them long before there is even a cover for the book. I get to give feedback that can modify the stories and experience things long before regular consumers will get their hands on it. Becoming a beta reader was a great decision and I also utilize them myself in my own writing. I just hope those that take my journeys enjoy it as much as the paths I explore with their books.

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