Sometimes when I’m writing, it’s hard to make room in my brain for other people’s stories. But in anticipation of Kristin Cashore’s new book Bitterblue, I decided to reread Graceling.
I loved Graceling the first time around, and it was just as good the second time. I sank into the story with a satisfied sigh, getting lost in the book as you only can at the hands of a wonderful writer. But I was also in for a happy surprise. Instead of distracting me from my own writing, reading Graceling made me hyperaware of all the things Cashore was doing right.
The flip side is that Graceling shed light on the things I was struggling with in my own writing. I’m currently revising a new book and it was amazingly helpful to see how Cashore managed to keep her main character likable, despite the fact she does unlikable, perhaps even unforgivable, things. Not an easy line to walk. Or how she managed to keep tension in the romance without letting it taking over the whole book.
I’m not saying that I want to copy Cashore’s techniques…I just mean that the best way to learn how to write a good story is to read really good ones. It lets you see how someone else is solving the same problems you’re facing. It inspires you to push yourself farther and take bigger risks. And best of all, it’s fun. In the midst of revising and plotting and rewriting, it’s easy to forget…the best part of your job as a writer is being a reader.