Life is too Short to Read Bad Books (Unless You’re A Writer)
Bad books exist.
Books with flat characterization, boring plots, stale conflicts, and/or problematic content. They’re out there, and sometimes they can be so bad, they’re downright painful to get through.
But even bad books have their merits. Believe it or not, reading the occasional bad book can really help you grow as a writer. Powering through a particularly shitty book can highlight what doesn’t work for you.While you’re reading, keep a tab on what makes you roll your eyes. What makes you want to stop reading. What just simply pisses you off. Remember those things and avoid them while working on your own stories.
A wonderful exercise to consider is rewriting passage that annoy you.Found a particular scene that makes you want to rip your hair out? Know you can do better? Well, put your money where your mouth is and REWRITE THAT SHIT.
Another lovely perk to reading shitty books is the huge confidence boost it supplies.Reading something that you know is terrible, but still got published, is usually a huge confidence booster for unpublished writers, and that’s totally okay. A bad book might be just want you need to realize how much your own work shines.
So pick up a book you know will suck every now and then. It’s worth it.
Happy writing, lovelies.
Some Selected Readings I’ve Come Across Recently:
- Spears, Sorcery, and Double Consciousness (Part 2) (Part 3) - a series about African-inspired fantasy and the Western vs Non-Western writer.
- Sexy Loki, Queer Tricksters, and the Problem with LGBT Villains - an opinion piece on how lgbt+ villains are written and used in fiction.
- Postcolonial Fantasy and African Against the Word “Tribe” - a discussion on the use of the word “tribe” in fiction, especially fantasy.
- The “Other” Histories of Fantasy - about (the lack of) non-European settings in fantasy and drawing from history.
- Fantasy’s “Othering” Fetish - about the portrayal of POC in fantasy, particularly how they are “othered”.
- Green-Eyed Asian - about giving POC traits that are more common in white people in an attempt to “beatify” or “exotify” them.
- Respective Portrayals of Asians in the Media and How to Balance Them - a primer on stereotypes and portrayals of Asians and Asian-Americans in American media.
- No Queens in Afrika: Women Rulers in Sword & Soul and Other African-Inspired Fantasy - about the use of the word “queen” in relation to non Western European (mostly African) female rulers.
- Tropes of Women of Color in Sci-FI - an eight-part series looking at five tropes that surround women of color in sci-fi.
- Why Sci-Fi Keeps Imagining the Subjugation of White People - an article about the popular topic of colonialism and anti-colonialism in sci-fi.
- On Black Women, Teen TV, and Fantasy Space - a short article about the desirability of black women in fiction and its relationship with women being validated “through heteronormative romantic success”.
- On the Erasure of People of Color from Dystopian Fiction - about the absence of POC in speculative fiction, particularly futuristic settings.
- Mary Anne Mohanraj Gets You Up to Speed Part I (Part II) - a two-part essay about race and racism in fiction and about writing a race other than your own.
- You’re Hurting My Head Again SF/F - a rant on erasing an entire race for the sake of an alternate history.
- Diversity and Disability - about the lack of representation for disabled people in YA fiction and the two tropes that often surround disability in fiction.
- No, Really, Stop Raping Your Women! - disputing arguments that favor rape and sexual assault against women in fantasy.
- Monstrous Females and Female Monsters - on the difference between the portrayal of male monsters and female monsters, and on what makes a female character a monster.
- How White Writers Should Address Racism - a short post on how characters address racial and ethnic prejudice in fiction.
- Dystropia: Why the Sassy Gay Friend Isn’t Progressive - an article on writing “sassy gay friends” and how it can turn bad quickly.
READ THESE PLEASE. Amazing bit of information to make you a better writer.
Out of curiosity, would anyone be interested in a newsletter from me?
It would only come out twice a month or so, and you’ll get exclusive scoops into whatever it is I’m doing (writing, I suppose).
Hit me up at adrianfridge[at]gmail[dot]com with Newsletter somewhere in the subject line.
May I get a hands up from writers who aren’t English majors?
I have a degree in Chemical Engineering… the only thing I’m engineering these days is my word count.
Nearly every YA novel I have ever read
My Last Couple Of Days (The Writing Process In A Nutshell)
I’ll betaread your story up to 2,000 words (Updated Jul 29, 2014)
You want something read, I’ll read it for you.
This is a big time commitment for me, which is why I’m putting a word limit. However, this beta-reading offer is ongoing, so don’t be shy about contacting me even if it’s two months after I posted/updated this.
- 2,000 words from a chapter or short story
- Any genre, including erotica. LGBTQA+ friendly!
- No fanfiction, sorry.
- Lenient on grammar
- First-come first-serve basis
Your expectation from me is a general breakdown of what you did right and wrong, tips, lots of questions, and an overall analysis. My expectation from you is the ability to stomach tough love. Just remember: just because I don’t like something that you wrote doesn’t mean I see you as a failure. Mistakes are a part of learning, and I’m just trying to help you along.
Please send a .DOCX file to adrianfridge[at]gmail[dot]com
- Draft number, e.g. third draft
- Genre, e.g. new adult fiction
- Total length, e.g. 50,000 words
- What are your strengths and weaknesses as a writer? (e.g. “The beginning totally sucks and I don’t know why. I think I’m good at creating natural sounding dialogue.”)
- What are you insecure about? (e.g. “I’m afraid you’ll absolutely hate it — hint: don’t worry)
I will do my best to keep you updated once you send me your manuscript. All I ask for is patience.
My beta-reading is limited to leaving comments and critique. If you’d like me to edit your work, I have hourly rates that we can discuss after I’ve read your writing.
Lots of love,
P.S. I believe in confidentiality. I will never talk about your prose in my social media unless you give me explicit written permission. If you ever find me groaning on my Tumblr or Twitter about editing, it’s because I’m working on my own writing. This disclaimer is to avoid any potential misunderstanding.
Has my Tumblr got too serious lately?