Writing Reader Observation #10–Brass Tacks and Sing Me a Song


I haven’t written an observation in a while, which may be a good thing or a bad thing. I think sometimes they just becomes rants. Is that good or bad? You tell me. Heh.

The first observation is a reiteration. I just read a somewhat successful writer (she’s moving up in the romance writing world thus the “somewhat”) who said in her list of writing myths “that you need to read a lot to be a great writer,” and she discounted this. I’m not sure whether I pounded my forehead to the desk first or cried. Maybe both. My first assumption is that she only reads good books published by already successful writers. Or, she doesn’t read a lot and has somehow found a formula for her own writing and a set of people who make her books good. I’m sure there should be a third “or” but I can’t fathom at the moment what it could be. Maybe you can.

I can’t imagine worse advice than telling writers that they don’t have to read much.  One of my first observations regarding reading writers was this quote : “Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have very pleasant careers.”
—Ray Bradbury

Now, I imagine a lot of us would like to be mentioned in the same phrase as Ray Bradbury. And if reading intensely was good for him, I think it would probably be good for the rest of us.

To back this up, let me tell you that I have read a lot of indie writers who have come up with some excellent book ideas. Upon reading, my first thought is that they don’t read or if they do, they haven’t read enough or well. Their dialogue doesn’t remotely resemble good dialogue. Their scenes are all over the place, meaning that they have a characters just having a good old time rather than pursuing the mystery they are supposed to be solving. They have no idea of plot because they haven’t read and, in turn, studied.

Sascha! Reading isn’t supposed to be studying. It’s supposed to be enjoyment!

Yes, and maybe by reading-osmosis, you start to integrate what you’ve read into what you write.

I will honestly admit that my writing has improved in the two years I’ve run this blog. In one part it’s because I’m constantly writing. But, I’m also constantly reading. As I read, I notice what works and what doesn’t. For me.

Here is where I will throw in my “your mileage may vary” slogan towards reviewing because I’ve recognized that readers are not always selective. A badly written novel can still get good reviews. Shrug. Human nature? The Fifty Shades of Grey phenom? Write sexy and they will come? Everyone has the power to be a critic these days thanks to the internet….and thus I am.

Now my new observation. Why do some (I’m afraid I’m once again talking about indie writers here) writers suck at writing lyrics to songs they put in their novels? Why do these lyrics look like the workmanship of a tween rather than the full grown woman who’s written them? Why are they monosyllabic? Why invoke pedestrian words about love?

I don’t think of myself as a poet, but I love words. I love the way slam poetry and rap utilize pounding rhymes and visuals. So much internal rhyme. Imagery. Whether you love Taylor Swift or hate her, she is one helluva songwriter. Read her lyrics! I love good poetry. If you love music then you know that lyrics are a form of poetry. (Thus Bob Dylan and Nobel Prize in the same sentence.) Only bad songs have bad lyrics. Please, writers of music novels, please consider writing a few poems before putting your lyrics on a page. Please. If you can’t do that, then just leave them off the page.

I think I’ve ranted enough. You can agree. I won’t be offended.

But please, writers. Keep reading. Read the good stuff. It’s out there. It’s a pleasure. It makes our days betters. And if you can write like that, you’ll make my day better. 🙂

One good kick at the soapbox should do it. Ah, there. Back on solid ground.

Thanks…if you’ve stuck around for the end of the rant.

If you have an opinion on this, I would love to hear it. Do you think writers need to read? Oh, and bless you if you have an opinion on song lyrics in books because at least then I would know I’m not the only one. 🙂 Phew.

xoxo Sascha

8 thoughts on “Writing Reader Observation #10–Brass Tacks and Sing Me a Song

  1. Please please please tell me this is a joke? Of course they should read and know their genre, read what you want to write. And on top of that, research at least a little bit. Please! For example, do not have your character get a tattoo and then go swimming the next day, not unless part of your plot is for them to get an infection and end up meeting the love of their life having it treated.

    I don’t recall coming across any song lyrics in the few music novels I have read, but maybe they were so bad I blocked them out? I would agree though, leave them off the page if they aren’t amazing. Though maybe nobody told them they were bad? Maybe they were told over and over that they were amazing and they believed it? That’s a rant for another day though!

    1. Carp. I am so sorry I haven’t responded, especially since when I first read your comment I was so pleased you had as much of a rant as me. I am trying to figure out how to get more thumbs to put them in all the pies and then maybe I’ll actually respond in time like I used to.

      Oh, yes. I now know all about tattooes and you’re right on this. (Did I do research for that story last summer? Maybe.)

      My feeling is that these writers really don’t look at song lyrics. Hell, I practically live music so I breathe in song lyrics like books. When a writer writes stupid simple, I have to believe they don’t know their sh*t and now I’m cussing…evidently a rant continued. lol

      Anyway, I’m so sorry I didn’t respond sooner. I’m afraid that’s been my mantra for today.

      Thank you. 🙂

      1. Don’t stress it, I was just happy to rant lol! The other thing to consider is maybe it’s reflective of the music they listen to and they *think* it is good. Feel sad for them. But at the same time, hey, they wrote a book, so some kudos is deserved.

  2. Yes, I agree, and I will add that they should stop watching tv and blockbuster movies, for the love of all that’s insightful and refreshing!

    1. It’s funny you should say that because the book I’m currently reading sounds like it was plotted from tv.
      Thanks for visiting and commenting and I apologize for the late reply. 🙂

      1. My sentiments exactly! I’ve written about it in my blog as well “Stop writing books like they were scripts”! Thanks for your reply!

      2. That’s so limiting, isn’t it? The written word is so much richer and requires a lot more participation from readers than video does.

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