Writing Tip: Read in Your Genre

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So I’m in the process of writing my first YA fantasy novel, and something recently occurred to me…

… I haven’t actually read much YA fantasy.

I’ve read children’s fantasy, like The Chronicles of Narnia. I’ve read adult fantasy, like A Song of Ice and Fire. I’ve read Harry Potter, obviously. And I’ve read a ton of YA books, generally. But YA fantasy, specifically, was one place where I was lacking.

Perhaps that’s one of the reasons I’ve been struggling with this manuscript, particularly the world-building part. I thought it would be fun and cool to just totally make up a brand new world–no research to do!–but it’s also so hard–deciding what happens when and where, what the rules are for everything from the social order to the geography to people’s abilities–and making sure you’re staying consistent to your world.

That’s one of the reasons I’ve been studying how the masters world-build–but I need to do more than that. I need to read more YA fantasy. I need to know what’s been done, what’s been overdone, what’s expected, how to turn the expected into the unexpected–and all while making it a unique story, one only I can tell.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, as will every successful writer and writing book you’ll ever read: in order to be a good writer, you must be a voracious reader. Especially in the genre in which you’re writing.

So I’m currently building up my YA fantasy TBR list. I read this trilogy, which was fantastic and amazing and so beyond anything I am capable of doing at the moment, but I think it falls more under science fiction than fantasy. I read every book by this writer (my reaction: mediocre to amazing), which are definitely fantasy–but the difference is that these books are urban fantasy. Like Harry Potter, they tell of a fantasy world existing in the current world. My new novel is in a brand-new, made-up world.

So for full on, brand-new-world fantasy:  I read this, which I actually couldn’t stand, but I did learn a lot from it, so it was definitely worth my while. And now I’m currently reading this, which I’m definitely liking, though not loving. And I recently ordered this book online, and I’m planning to read it next. But I know I have a lot more to go in my YA fantasy education. What’s great that I’m missing? What’s not worth my while? Please let me know!

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7 thoughts on “Writing Tip: Read in Your Genre

  1. Oooh thank you for the recommendations! I can totally get on board with some New Adult Fantasy as well 🙂

    Chaos Walking were some of the best books I read all year/ever–let me know if you decide to pick them up!

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  2. Might want to try the Scribes of Medeisia. I’m also a huge fan of the Emperor’s Edge series, but it’s not technically YA, more like new adult, and it’s a bit of an adventure/fantasy mashup.

    And enjoy The Selection! I liked it as a guilty pleasure. Not my style in general, but it was fun. 🙂 Now I’m going to have to check out Chaos Walking series — sounds very cool!

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