Read Bad Books! Read Bad Books!

“The hell you say?!”

Yes, if you’re a writer, especially a beginner, you should be reading bad books. You should be reading your ass off if it’s not in a chair writing. Read all kinds of books.

Case in point:

I recently stuck it out with a trilogy that was recommended by someone close to me. There were two reasons I finished this trilogy.

  1. I thought my GOD, this has got to get better sooner or later. 
  2. I can learn from this.

It never got better. Not for me. But I did learn from it. That’s why writer’s should read bad books. Most of us are avid readers and have been long before, or alongside our writing. We know what works and what doesn’t work for us. Reading bad books helps us articulate what those things are that bug us and avoid them in our own writing.

Some of the things that were wrong with this trilogy:

  1. constant typos, spelling and grammar errors
  2. No conflict to speak of despite being a post-apocalyptic story
  3. Sweet but unrealistic storyline (all the darlings survived)
  4. No tension to speak of, the original results of an apocalypse can only carry so far

This stuff throws the reader out of the story and could make them want to <gasp!> put down the book. I know how hard it is to write a novel. I do. I’m currently working on my own revisions on an 85k novel. I’m not saying go out and purposely buy bad books. I’m just saying that when you run across a bad book, give it a chance to teach you something or another.

In my humble opinion, this particular person published too early. This novel needed an editor in the most desperate of ways, further revising, and more polishing. This was a self-published book and is an example of why self-published authors have a hard time being taken seriously. Self-publishing can allow the author to circumvent important steps in the process such as submitting to a competent editor and making appropriate revisions.

As a writer, consider finishing that bad book you put down. Learn from it. Learn how to evaluate the good and the bad. Learn how to articulate what’s wrong for you.  Think about how you would have fixed the problem. Then apply what you’ve learned to your own writing and watch it grow and mature. Also, never. Ever. Skip the editor.

What was the problem with the last bad book that you read? How did it help you make your own writing better?