Writers agree that the more you read, the better you will write. When I wrote my post on reading to become a better writer, I encouraged you to read outside your genre and comfort zone — your box. Doing this gives you a taste of different writing styles, topics, and characters which can be useful to your own writings.
Science fiction is outside my box, so I chose to The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. This book was required reading in my high school days, but I read it at a younger age. My older sister was a Bradbury fan and she had all his books. I didn’t recall much about the story except that it was about men going to Mars.
Seeing the six-digit hand on the cover didn’t help when I finally had the book in my possession. Though I am a Star Wars fan, I have never sought out science fiction for pleasure reading.
When I finally forced myself to begin reading the short story collection, I knew right away that I was in for a treat. The Martian Chronicles, published in 1950, was not what I expected or remembered. Ray Bradbury’s writing drew me into a world that is believable. Martians and Earth Men, interactions with their own and with each other — I find the book hard to put down.
Here’s a quote at raybradbury.com:
“More than the ‘hard science’ fiction of contemporaries like Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke, Bradbury’s MARTIAN CHRONICLES put the romance in space flight…. Bradbury’s Mars stories work because they are about people, not machines.” — Kansas City Star
People, not machines. Maybe that’s why Bradbury, the science fiction writer, struck a chord with me, a writer who likes to focus on people. But I never would have revisited his wonderful writing if I hadn’t taken the advice of experienced writers: Read other genres to improve your writing.
What’s up for the next outside-my-box reading? I haven’t read a mystery in a long time. If you have a good suggestion, let me know.
A thought just came to me: The week after I started reading Bradbury, I wrote a story unlike one I’ve ever written. The story is not science fiction, and it’s not a full departure from my usual style, but it is different. I can’t help but think that the way I wrote Losing Luisa was inspired by my reading outside my box.
What are you reading that’s outside your box?