What’s the worst book that you’ve ever read? If you’re like me, you know right away. You know that the plot made no sense, the characters were weak, and you were quite confuzzled throughout the whole thing. Maybe you didn’t even finish it.
There are a lot of books out there. Naturally, they can’t all be amazing. But when a book disappoints, you can do more than just rant about it.
You can learn from it.
And no, I do not mean that you can learn that you just read the worst book ever. I mean that you can grow as both a reader and a writer. You can improve from reading that book. It’s not hard to do.
So grab your pet, your pad, and your pencil, and let’s get started!
What You Can Learn as a Reader
When you read a bad book, you most likely decide that you never want to read one like it ever again. When you read that book, you learned something about yourself. Maybe you don’t like reading about purple aliens or jam factories as much as you thought that you would.
That’s great! You now have the knowledge of what you didn’t like reading about. Maybe it’s the time period or the genre. Maybe it’s the age of the main character, or what they did. Excellent! Know, you can use this new knowledge about yourself and apply it the next time that you go to the library.
If you pick up a book and see that the character is nine, but you despised the last book that you read about nine-year-olds, (There is nothing wrong with nine-year-olds, btw), maybe you shouldn’t read that book.
Or if you see that the book takes place in 2045, but you’re more of 1945 kind of person, then it’s possible that you might not like that book.
See? Using information about your dislikes can help you determine the sort of book you’d like to read.
This being said, not all books are the same, so it’s possible that you’ll like the book anyway and the bad book was just a fluke.
What You Can Learn as a Writer
Bad books are like writer’s gold. There are just so many ways your writing can be improved by reading them. Soon after you read one, make it a habit to write down the book title and exactly what you disliked about it. Was it the characters’ names? The descriptions (Or lack of)? The climax?
Whatever it was, write it down. Now, think about your own pieces of writing. Do you want yours to be like that horrible book? I think not.
So on the back of the paper where you wrote down what you disliked, write at the top “What to Include In My Writing” (Or something like that), and basically write down the opposite. For example, the ideas above would become, “Select names that make sense, include detailed and non-cliche descriptions, include a dramatic climax.”
You may even want to include in little descriptions for each idea. Like, “Select names that make sense-No names that are the names of nuts*, look up definitions to make sure they fit the characters, don’t use the most popular names for everybody.”
“Include detailed and non-cliche descriptions-find deeper meaning in things like hair color, what could I compare Name’s** personality too?”
“What could I do to heighten the stakes at this final battle? What could happen during the climax that not only saves the world but has a huge consequence for Hero?”
Boom! Not only did you read a bad book, but your writing is much better and you got some brainstorming done. A very good deal, I must say.
*True story. I once read a book where three of the characters were named after nuts.
**I feel sorry for this character. Who would like to be named “Name”?
So, I hope that this helps with your reading and your writing. I know that some of you are looking for writing advice, it being Camp NaNo and all. (BTW, if you have any post suggestions, I have a survey here where you can them to me) 🙂
I had a great time writing this post. Would you be interested in reading another post like this?
What’s the worst book that you’ve ever read? How do you deal with reading bad books?