I see quite a few genre forums out there, populated by people tinkering with their novels. Those same novelists-to-be also talk a lot about the books they’re reading and nearly all of them are within the genre. This is, of course, a good thing at heart.
Personally, for a writer of SFF, I would find it odd if I drew solely upon SFF, especially core mass market genre releases (of which I’m one, I know). As much as I love it, I would be worried if I read totally in the genre all year round. It seems unhealthy for me, to digest things that have already been digested several times over. I’d worry where any new influences might come from. How could I bring new ideas into play? I’m only saying this since I found it incredibly useful when writing the current series to draw from as many – if not more – non-SFF influences (crime, lit-fic, non-fiction, and so on) than from within the genre.
I guess the notion occurred to me again when I saw Larry’s post:
What I’ve noticed when reading several of these blogs is that the focus not only is very much contained to the above genre(s), but that the terminology employed is that which crops up almost exclusively in such genre(s) – words such as “worldbuilding” or “infodumping.”
What I would like to see, just as an experiment I suppose, is for several such bloggers to take just one (although more would be welcome) fiction that cannot be remotely connected to SF/F/H and review it. Curious to see if the terminology in the reviews would change or stay the same.
Perhaps the same applies to new writers, too. Maybe you can find different dimensions to your own writing skills by reading widely. There’s a whole load of material out there than you can bring into the genre and help make your work more interesting. Don’t get me wrong: this is not an instruction to not read genre, but surely if you draw upon genre completely for your inspiration, surely things become a little… stale? Predictable? Dull?
I imagine it would be difficult to broaden one’s sources of inspiration for those reviewers who are also writers. Indeed, could genre discussions benefit from a wider literary context? I could see that it would help get rid of such self-conscious and internal labels, as Larry implies.
Just a thought.