You have probably heard that in order to be a better writer, you should read more. As Stephen King once said, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time to write.” It is equally important to read from various genres. You need to have a good idea of what is out there in the market today. However, what you may not know is that reading bad books, as well as books that are different from anything you believe you would ever write, can also be extremely beneficial to your writing.
At some point in your life, you are bound to read a book that will be a struggle just to finish. And if you are not required to finish reading it, you are likely to put it aside. Perhaps you have even asked yourself, “How do so many bad books end up being published?” Granted, everyone has different interests. But to be honest, some books have so many errors in them that it is hard to find the redeeming parts.
From a writing standpoint, try to determine why you would consider a book to be bad before leaving it unfinished.
· Are the characters unappealing?
· Is the dialogue stilted?
· Is the plot unrealistic?
· Was it poorly researched?
· Did it move too slowly/too quickly?
· Were there places that the story lagged?
· Is it all telling instead of showing?
· Was the ending unsatisfying?
Once you have identified the issues that caused you to become disengaged with the book, take a look at your own writing. Are you able to find some of these problems in your own WIP (work in progress)? If nothing else, reading what you consider to be a bad book can help you learn what not to do in your own work.