Today’s post is courtesy of a discussion I had with someone today on Twitter. He’s a nice guy. He’s well educated. His writing is solid. And, who knows, he may be reading these very words. He brought to mind something which I think is essential for anyone who wants to get into the industry and that is the necessity of being well read. I know many of you don’t have the years of accumulated random bits of knowledge I’ve garnered, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get it if you really want it. If you want to be taken seriously, you need to get it. While research, which I’ve been discussing a lot lately, is all well and good, it’s simply not enough. We live in a competitive world and if you want to rise above, you need to develop your style, your voice, your identity. And if you already have one of those, bully for you. Not everyone does. You can get it simply by sitting at the keyboard and pounding on the keys until something good eventually comes out, but I’ll let you in on a secret, if you read in the genres you’re wanting to emulate, you’re going to get to where you’re going faster. You already have your own voice, your own mannerisms, in the real world. You just have to learn to let go and let it infuse your technique. Like star athletes who study the moves of their predecessors, you have to dig into the works. Roleplaying books are great to learn the structure. Still, they are not enough. You need to get past them. They can teach you the mechanical aspects, but they are not unlike a student learning to use InDesign or some other software who has not studied styles writ large. They do what needs to get done, but they are missing an intangible, a key element. The best works produced in any category come from those well learned in a subject. Those who have taken the time to read the source works and do their research and have honed their abilities as much as they are able. Sometimes, even with all those elements combined, success is not guaranteed, but lessons are learned, and efforts can be improved the next time out.
And reading along the way is something we can all benefit from. Even if I told you to write the story of Romeo & Juliet in your own voice, it would change based upon your experiences, your styles, unless you were copying verbatim (and even then, you would learn something). In my younger days, I recall typing up some sections of a book because, by so doing, I was able to better understand sentence structure of the author in question. It became more real, more tangible, and the physicality of the act taught me things that merely reading the words could not do.
Today, I’ll ask you to list some books that delight and inspire you in your own efforts, be they simple flights of fancy, home games, or towards the professional.
Until next time, I bid you, dear reader, adieu!