Good writers are good readers. I don’t mean you should read three books a day. I understand that is not normal behavior. What I do mean is that you should be reading books in your genre and even some books outside of it.

“Why?” you ask.

Because reading others people’s work is how we learn to write. Oh, yes, we have to do some of that pesky writing ourselves or we get out of practice. I am a case in point. But reading is how we learn the conventions of our genres. When we read we see what people are doing right. We learn about pacing, liking unlikeable characters, character development, plot structure. And what’s best is that we learn it in an enjoyable manner. It’s a lot more fun to read a book with excellent pacing like Twilight than it is to have someone explain how pacing works. And even reading bad books can be useful. We see how NOT to do things. (And bad published books give us hope. If that piece of **** can get published, then there’s no way my epic won’t someday be picked up.)

And that, dear friends, is why folks like me and all the other well-meaning people in the blogshpere keep urging bookslists on you. These are the books we think you should read — some for fun, some for their art, and some because they’ll help your writing.

And in this spirit, I thought we could start making a booklist of great books that exemplify some writing skill. In the comments section, nominate a book and tell what writing skill it shows off. It can be something as simple as excellent humor or lyrical language to something more complex like plot twists. I’ll compile a list from the nominations.

I’ll start with my above example:

Twilight by Stephanie Meyers – pacing

© Copyright 2006-2011 Madeline Smoot. All rights reserved.
May be excerpted and duplicated for educational purposes.
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