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That is a hard question to answer. I think at some point in time we all will be exposed to some sort of fiction if we are a fiction writer. No matter what, we will hav to research and read something in order to make our novels and words more believable. I believe we can be truly creative no matter what we have read or seen before. We are all influenced by life in one way or another.
One way you are influenced is if your friends tell you a story about something. It could be a tall tale or a campfire story. but it could be something that draws out your imagination. it doesn’t matter if you did all the research you needed to make this campfire story come out as an alternate world horror sci-fi thriller, the source was the camp fire.
A game of cops and robbers with your friends at the playground when you were five can spawn a story. A sleuth hunting down a jewel thief and mass murder or whatever sparks that creative center in your mind. No matter what, we are all influenced by something.
If you are not influenced by a novel, you will be influenced by a TV show, an anime, by the news, by memories and how those what-if’s that swirl around them.
I believe that reading makes us better writers. we get to see how other authors string concepts together and how they use prose and thread plot lines together. we are not out there to be influenced by their stories, we want to create a style of our own in writing but need direction of where to go.
It is easy to see the brush strokes in a Picasso, or a Michael Angelo. You can learn how to do different art styles in class and maybe even become masters of those styles. At the time this article comes out, there isnt that kind of class for writing.
sure, teachers can show you the basics but truly marvelous examples have to be read. we have to write many drafts to get our own style out of it. By not reading, we deprive ourselves of examples of great writing styles that we can use to blend into our own unique brand. I view not reading as a missed opportunity to learn from people who have published before me.
Just like research, we have to read just as much as we write.