31

I have heard people telling that they have read so many books and have a mini library at their houses. I did not read many books (I am 17 and do not have much time as I balance school, special classes and software development. I am extremely interested in reading books, though I cannot right now), but I have read The Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins, The Shiva Trilogy by Amish and all books (about 60-70) of Goosebumps by R.L. Stine. Though you may think that I have read many books in Goosebumps, people say that they are like short stories and cannot be considered a book.

I fantasize about writing a fantasy novel. I have an outline of it and have written the first chapter. But I am afraid I do not have enough knowledge about the book-reading community as to what pleases them. Do I continue writing the novel, or do I need more experience in reading books first?

  • 3
    Reading is not necessary, but it helps a lot, so you still should. – Mephistopheles Dec 10 '17 at 10:17
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    What are your goals for this book? Do you want to get published, do you want to tell a story, or do you want to improve your craft? (Or all of the above?) – Arcanist Lupus Dec 10 '17 at 20:00
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    I feel I got an interesting story to share with the world, and of course, I would want to improve my writing through this journey. So I guess all the 3 you listed (commenting just for the information. I already have got some lovely answers to the question) – Siddharth Venu Dec 11 '17 at 8:30
  • 9
    How could you have time to write if you don't have time to read? – Shan-x Dec 11 '17 at 13:19
  • Have you looked at alternatives like Wattpad? A lot of beginner/amateur writers are writing there and a lot of people are reading. It's a great, free place to get your story out. Test the waters, get feedback, take a first step. – Summer Dec 11 '17 at 14:30
26

Many will say what you're striving to do is impossible because you won't have seen enough tricks of the trade in use, but I'll do my best to suggest a way forward that doesn't boil down to, "read N books because that sounds like enough". I'll still end up telling you to do some reading (by which I mean "or use an audiobook if you prefer; I'm not your mother").

  • What "tropes" is your fantasy likely to use? How have people played with them in the past? Is there anything "standard" that has become so stale you want to do something different? Start your reading here.
  • Do some research by your preferred method on the most common problems with beginners' writing, so you have a rough idea for how you're supposed to write. At this stage, my hope is this will ensure your pacing is about right, because you'll need that for the bullet point below; but your writing will have to refine a lot before that.
  • You need a word count estimate. (Write a very detailed chapter summary of your intended plot, and if necessary redraft Chapter 1 as closely to the "rules" you've learned as possible in terms of pacing.) Find another work of about the same scale (word counts are easy to Google) and read that, or if it's very long at least read about its structure, to see whether in doing so you learn anything about structuring a work of that size. People were right to warn you about Goosebumps, not out of word-count snobbishness but because what you intend to write will almost certainly be so much longer than those stories as to have very different structural requirements.
  • Now you know what work yours may be most like at least in terms of structure, put aside writing it altogether for the moment, as you've still a lot to learn and what you wrote now may need to be extensively redrafted. (This is often necessary with Chapter 1, anyway; I only asked you to write it for a word count estimate.) Read How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read and try to apply its techniques to learning what other great books did right. It might just allow you to do that without reading them in their entirety. I have a number of reservations about the book's ideas myself, but if what you're hoping to achieve is possible this is your best chance. To quote Jorge Luis Borges's review of Ulysses, "I confess that I have not cleared a path through all 700 pages, I confess to having examined only bits and pieces, and yet I know what it is, with that bold and legitimate certainty with which we assert our knowledge of a city, without ever having been rewarded with the intimacy of all the many streets it includes."
  • Now you know how long your work will likely be, how it is to be structured and what some do's and don'ts are, design a timetable for when you'll write the first draft, which will take ages. You may need to first plan some characters' personalities to ensure the plot that flows thereafter doesn't have them do anything they wouldn't, and you may need to write another chapter to see how quick you are; but I'll leave all that to you. If you can also timetable redrafting after that, so much better. But once all that work is behind you, be warned: even great writers usually have to write several novel-length stories before they're skilled enough for their work to be publishable by traditional routes. So if your heart is set on publishing this particular story, either practise with some others first or else be prepared for extensive redrafting one day.
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    Now you've sent a tvtropes link, I'm pretty sure he won't write any books. When he emerges from that rabbithole he would be an old man. – sampathsris Dec 11 '17 at 5:23
  • To be fair, a lot of the content in A Song of Ice and Fire is not much different than a small Goosebumps story injected into the main path. There's a big trend of "5000 words of interesting sub plot then someone dies and they go back to their main plot." – corsiKa Dec 11 '17 at 21:03
  • @corsiKa The other reason not to think "I'll structure my novel like this equally long ASOIAF book" is those books are part of a longer series, so they don't have the same start-&-end everything obligation that the OP has in mind. – J.G. Dec 11 '17 at 21:17
  • @J.G. Also, that structure made me loathe the third book and I still haven't finished the fifth because of how much extra crap there is. So that's another reason for OP to consider not doing it!! – corsiKa Dec 11 '17 at 21:28
  • This answer moved me from "I have no interest in writing" to "I should start writing" by the 4th paragraph. – user22a6db72d7249 Dec 12 '17 at 2:36
20

It really depends on what you're trying to achieve, what you're aiming for.

Some people write simply because they enjoy it. Their stories don't need to meet any criteria other than being fun to write. Other people don't need to like them. They don't need to be "good" by literature critic's standards. If this is why you write, don't let any ideas about what a writer should be like hold you back.

Some people write because they want to be part of a community. They might write fan fiction or something similar. To them, it's not important to appeal to everybody, but it is important that their stories get read by a very specific target audience. They don't need the approval of critics or the New York Times, but simply by their friends, their family, their community or the rest of the Harry Potter fanbase. They don't want or need to earn money with their stories and they would rather publish them on a fanfiction site or forum for others to read. If this is why you write, then I personally don't think you need to follow writing advice unless you want to.

Some people write because they want to get better at writing. They don't need an audience that swoons about their great stories, they want an audience that points out the flaws in their writing and helps them get better. If this is you, remember that you can only get better if you actually listen to advice. If reading is impossible for you right now, it might be holding you back at improving.

Some people write because they want to earn money with it, they want to get published or want to be famous/good writers. To these people, it's important that they appeal to a wide audience. It's important to get better and improve their writing. It's important to adapt a professional attitude when it comes to writing. If this is you, then yes, you should follow the general advice that is given to people who want to become writers. However, don't stop writing just because you need to read more. Write and read.

Most writers are a combination of the above and things that I didn't list. Most writers will probably also have trouble to shut down their inner critic, even if they decide they just want to write for fun. But in any case, I think it's important for you to figure out your motivation to write and then adapt the appropriate mindset. If you want to write for fun, don't stop because others tell you you aren't doing it properly.

Also, I believe that even professional writers need to just write for fun sometimes. After all, how else would they learn how to write? You don't need to do everything perfectly right from the beginning. In the long term, if you want to be professional, that will require a lot of reading. But for now, you can just have fun exploring the world of writing and figuring everything out as you go.

12

Although the other answers here are great, I feel a more direct answer to your question is important.

Should you write, even if you have not read many books?

Absolutely!

Write to your heart's content. You'll find it will make you want to read more. I started writing when I was a child - by dictating it to my mother - I could not have read any books by that point.

Write and keep writing, especially if you enjoy it.

  • 3
    I would add to this answer that writing will make you appreciate more the art of those you read. – user14340 Dec 11 '17 at 17:43
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    I swear, I love this answer! This is what love for literature is really about: reading and writing as part of the same world. – FraEnrico Dec 12 '17 at 12:06
11

In all the author biographies I have read, two things seem to be constant. They are all voracious wide-ranging readers, and they all (or almost all) started writing in some form at a very early age. It follows that they cannot have been widely read at the time they started writing. Wide extensive reading was clearly part of their development as a writer.

This makes sense. A novel is the most complex piece of art that humans create (far more complex than a movie). You are not going to learn to put all the pieces together in a way that sustains continuous interest and leads to a compelling conclusion without many false starts. Writing will change how you read. As you struggle to achieve some effect in your own work, you will start to read with speciaL attention to that effect in the work of others.

The corpus of literature will become the food you consume to sustain you in your development as a novelist. But just as an athlete needs food to sustain them, but cannot operate by gorging until they are hugely fat before they start training, training and nutrition must go hand in hand.

Read, write, repeat.

  • 1
    A good counterexample for writers all starting early is Murakami. He is both critically acclaimed and commercially successful, even though he only started writing at 29 years old. – Tibor Dec 11 '17 at 13:29
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    Would you mind to explain why you think a novel is more complex than a movie? I feel like a movie has to be more complex, if maybe only because so many people are involved who can add layers of complexity to it. I'd argue that a novel might be the most complex piece of art that a person can create on their own, but not the most complex piece of art that a human can create in general. – B Altmann Dec 11 '17 at 15:23
  • @BAltmann That's a fair question, but not one that can be adequately dealt with in a comment. Perhaps you might consider asking it as a question. – Mark Baker Dec 11 '17 at 17:51
  • @MarkBaker would that be on topic in this subreddit though? And wouldn't that encourage discussion? – B Altmann Dec 11 '17 at 18:43
  • @BAltmann A legitimate concern. But since I have now taken of my mod hat, I an happy to let the community decide. Personally I think there are several similar questions here. There are principles behind many of the specific answers here and I think that if we can't explore those principles then our more specific answers are of less value. – Mark Baker Dec 11 '17 at 22:40
7

I will start my answer from a slightly different angle than the question originally proposed. You are asking whether or not you should write a novel, and specify the purpose as writing a book with a good reception by the book-reading community, so I will start off by answering the question "Will I be able to write a novel that will be well-received by the book-reading community without reading a lot of other novels?"

The answer to that question is most likely no, at least at first. Writing is a craft, and reading other books can help you understand how others do it. But the most important activity in learning any craft is conscious training. If you start writing your novel now, you will most likely not be satisfied by the result yourself, the same would be true for an editor. (There are books with terrible style out there which got published for their interesting stories alone, but they are a minority.)

However, you will identify a lot of problems in writing the story. You might notice that you do not understand how to properly open dialogues without being awkward, or how and when to weave in world desciptions, or how to build in plot twists and hide them from the reader, or any number of other problems that a proficient writer might be able to solve.

Now when you have identified these problems, you will be able to identify the solutions to them in other novels more easily. You will be able to learn from others more consciously, so after you have tried writing a novel yourself, you will be able to learn how to write from others a lot faster.

If you look at it from a more general perspective, you should practice your craft, but you should also look around and see the work of others. If you aimed to be a mason, you might want to just start by building a wall and see what results you can up with, realize the structural weaknesses of the wall and then turn to look at the techniques that others came up with. Others might learn better by watching a wall being built by masters and then trying to imitate them. There are different ways of learning, and you will have to apply your individual way of learning.

Of course writing is also an art, and finding your own style is important, but the underlying techniques can be learned from others.

I believe that you should start writing if you want to become a good writer, and not be discouraged by not so great first results. But you should also try to understand how others achieved what you are trying to achieve, and read other novels.

6

I do not have enough knowledge about the book-reading community as to what pleases them.

What pleases them is what you see published and sell, they wouldn't buy it and read it if it did not please them.

Note there is a distinct cause and effect here: They don't like it just because it got published! It got published because editors thought it would sell and make money, and they have been reading all day, every day, for ten years or more and know the business of what the book-reading community really likes enough to buy.

If you like the books you read, and can write a book like that, then do it. Use the book as a reference. It will show you the proper way to format dialogue, for instance. (You can search or ask here for advice on things not done in your book.)

It will show you what dialogue looks like, see how the author intersperses attribution (who said it), descriptions of what characters are thinking, feeling, or doing, and the actual text of what they said.

Look in your book for when characters are introduced,* and see how the author did that for each of them. How much description do they get? Some introduce characters with nearly zero, and leave the description up to the imagination of readers.

You can go further, to see structure and pacing. Before "structure", find "scenes": Just like on TV, a scene is characters doing something and interacting in one continuous chunk of time, usually in one place, that advances the story.

Summarize scenes without the drama: "Hagrid comes to Harry's House, to tell him he is going to Wizard's School (Hogwarts)."

Like on TV or a movie, a scenes vary in length and can be long or short. In Star Wars, the scene of Luke fighting Vader is long. The length is for dramatic effect, the summary is "Luke has a light saber duel with Vader and loses badly. Vader cuts off his hand. Luke learns Obi Wan lied to him: Vader did not kill his father, Vader is his father."

A short scene is Leia confessing her love for Hans Solo before he is frozen in Carbonite. All scenes DO something, either making the characters do something in response (including go other places), or change the characters in some way (give them knowledge or understanding, new feelings, new experiences (good or bad) or cost them something.)

A summary of the scenes will show you a summary of these changes. Together for a character we call that an "arc", how a character changed from when they were first introduced to the last scene they appear in.

Characters that don't change in the story, appear in only a few scenes (like a store clerk) are props. In many cases they can do double duty: Not just a store clerk, but comical, or they illustrate something about the culture, technology, attitudes, religion, and so on. Or they may be props to be killed, to prove the villain is one bad ass dude.

The reason for doing this analysis? It becomes a lesson in writing a book you liked, that was part of your inspiration to write.

So copy it. Or more accurately, emulate it. These summaries of scenes show you how a professional, published-for-pay, popular author structures a story. How complications are introduced, how characters are introduced and taken away. Importantly, note how characters fail in the story, a story with just one success after another can be boring.

More specifically boring to readers: We call those "wish fulfillment" stories to be kind, or "mental masturbation" to be mean: They satisfy nobody but the author's fantasies of a perfect life. For a story to be interesting it must have conflict and the reader must believe the MC (main character) is at risk and may not succeed. Something or someone must stand in the way of their success. It could be the environment, e.g. say the MC is mugged by a sketchy taxi driver in a foreign country and winds up in a ditch in some unknown corner of India with no passport, identification, money, luggage or even shoes. It could be a villain, specific or not, e.g. the MC witnessed a mob murder, and now mobsters have sent people to kill her.

The last thing to notice in this book is perhaps the most important thing to get right. You will find it on this site as "Show don't Tell". Notice what types of things the author describes (shows the reader) and what kinds of things are just told to the reader.

Summaries can help here, too. You can summarize descriptions into something short and pithy, like "the author could have just written the landscape is beautiful and awe inspiring." But instead she spent a page describing mountains, forests, lakes, ice caps.

Or there was a description of action that shows you Harry is very mad, when she could have just said that: "Harry is very mad, so mad he frightens Sarah."

If you can summarize paragraphs of exposition like that, it means you should not. These are examples of where you should describe things and not just tell them. These help the reader imagine these scenes and feelings, where simply telling them "Harry is very mad" does not help them imagine much of anything, at best a facial expression. This is why the author describes things they could have summarized, to help the reader imagine the experience, not just understand the fact that Harry is very mad. Facts don't last long in the reader's mind, imagined experiences do.

So pay attention to where the author describes things they could have summarized as a simple fact, and where they just state simple facts (because the experience was not too important to the story). For example, "The bellman hailed a taxi, and she arrived at the airport with an hour to spare." The taxi driver, the smell and appearance inside the taxi, any dialogue they had, the traffic, the sights along the way, whether she tipped him: All unimportant to the story and skippable, so just a sentence of "telling" of a connecting fact to get her from the hotel to the airport is all we need: she took a taxi.

Note the TYPES of things the author "shows" (tries to give you an imagined experience) instead of telling, and tells (imparts a fact the reader likely needs to not wonder what the hell just happened) instead of showing. You want to emulate that too.

It can be more difficult. One of the biggest mistakes of beginners is to tell when they should have shown, e.g. "John was the most attractive guy in the school." In published stories, such facts are seldom stated, they are shown: If it is true, it should have consequences, things happen to John, people interact differently with him, he has a different attitude toward them. Perhaps he exploits his good looks to get what he wants and is successful where other guys would fail miserably. The reason it can be difficult to spot is because the author, having shown you John is the most attractive guy, may never ever tell you that John is the most attractive guy. At most, some character tells another character this, or perhaps a character resents it (telling somebody "He is not that good looking!"), or wishes him harm because of it. But the "fact" is never baldly stated. That is why you summarize, to get to the fact of what the author is trying to convey, and then you can see how such a fact is shown and never told.

You do not have to read a hundred books before you write. You do need intellect, but one bestseller that you personally like and admire is enough: It contains all you need to get started, from formatting to plotting to many examples of what professional writing looks and feels like. You can take it apart, piece by piece, along with a search or two. Don't think of it as a work of art, think of it as a machine, and by Google or on this site, you can learn how all the parts of this machine work to make something fun to read and worth buying.

4

I can relate to that feeling of knowing I have (or rather, want) to read more, but lacking the time to do so. That said, you do not really need to read a thousand books to start writing, even though it is highly recommendable to read carefully at least some. But by "some", I may mean as little as two books!

The art of writing, be it a novel, a short story, or really any fiction story, is composed of several skills, and not all of them require actually reading to enrich them. At its core, writing a novel is storytelling in a specific format, and you don't even strictly have to actually read anything to know how to tell good stories: movies, comics (maybe some reading required), the stories your parents would tell you at night before going to sleep, TV shows, cartoons and anime, crazy lies... all of them tell stories, some of them without using words at all. Of course, being different mediums implies they don't share the same format as novels, but you can learn storytelling without ever touching a book, or maybe without even consuming fiction, if you enjoy sharing life experiences and anecdotes with people. You should also analyze tropes (not the TVTropes meaning of trope, as that's generally just an euphemism for clichés and staples) and read a bit about symbolism; while these are not strictly necessary, they help enrich your story, but getting them right is a combination of reading a lot, intuition and feedback.

Storytelling is a rather vague and overarching skill. It is composed of several minor skills, such as pacing, emotion and timing.

Pacing helps you know when to accelerate the story forward or when to lay back and let the purple prose and lengthy descriptions do their job even though we know the answer to that is "never". It helps keeping the attention of the reader where we want to keep it, because if the story is too slow and seems to halt for what seems like ages, then people will just get bored. However, if you throw too much at the reader in a short timespan, they may become overwhelmed. This depends a lot on the type of story you want to tell, but fantasy stories tend to lean towards the faster side. Ideally, you will alternate between slower and faster segments without getting too far on the extremes. Knowing when to accelerate or decelerate comes from intuition (some things obviously won't work), self-reflection (if you would really, really like to see that in another, chances are you are not the only person in the world to think that way) and emotion.

Usually, when writing, unless you want to send a very clear message, all we want is expressing an emotion. People like feeling things, even if said things don't usually sit well with the general population. For example, almost everyone loves laughing, but pretty much nobody likes crying or feeling sad, yet tragedies exist and are terribly successful. We like to feel, whichever feel it is, so a good story will often include some sort of emotional manipulation (as ugly as that sounds) on the reader. For this, you will need good interpersonal skills or some degree of practical psychology, intuition and, more importantly, self-reflection to understand which is it that makes your heart beat. If you can torture yourself, chances are you are not alone in your cause.

Finally, timing is a more specific subset of pacing. While pacing is all about a vague sense of flow, timing is all about the when. I personally think this is best explained with an example: if you were writing a mystery whoddunit story, you wouldn't point out the assassin at the begginning, and even if you were writing a howcatchem, you wouldn't spill all of the beans at the beginning. Timing is about knowing when to deliver information, when to describe, when to stop describing to leave it for later, etc. As with most other storytelling subskills, you will need to

But a novel is not just about storytelling. Writing a novel requires format and style, which is best picked up by grabbing some novels and carefully analyzing the minutiae of how the book is written. This is a purely technical aspect that probably doesn't directly have an effect on the overall quality of the story, but helps putting your novel up to expected medium standards. Thing is, even though this is expected to be standard for the sake of being standard, there is no defined standard. For example, there may be several ways to format a dialogue between characters, and you are expected to follow those guidelines, but each author has his or her minor variations, so these are a matter of personal style. It is recommended you read some theory on this, as well as analyzing some other novels, or at the very least excerpts.

Then, imagination plays a key role when writing fiction. Specially in the case of fantasy novels, you are expected to imagine a world and keep track of it so everything is consistent according to the rules at play. Without imagination, there may be no conflict or issues to overcome. Without imagination, the characters may not play their traits to their fullest strengths. Imagination is all about "understanding the system" and keeping it working like a machine, and knowing what makes the gears grind.

Originality is a subset of imagination that, while not strictly necessary to be a successful writer (lots of writers have gotten away with "plagiarizing" other people's works), is specially welcome nowadays, moreso in fantasy works! Originality is a hard to explain, but it's basically about attempting to go where few people have gone before while having some taste to know where something has potential and not when you are trying too hard. Many people will tell you that nothing is truly original because that's not how the brain works, but originality is both a learned skill and a mindset: knowing what people have done before helps you know how to combine small pieces of their works into an unrecognizable Frankenstein, but you can only recombine them if you have the mindset of picking them apart and reconstructing them. Locke's Theory of Knowledge and his Complex Ideas more or less talk about this. Counterintuitively, not reading that much may help you be more original, as demonstrated by Christopher Paolini drawing way too much from other fantasy authors in his Inheritance saga, to the point it seems like a parody of the clichés of the genre. As a counterexample, I get my originality from half understanding concepts and plotlines, and trying to make sense of them, so knowing more may even taint the little creativity I have left.

Alright, that sounds nice, but coming from a software development background, you will surely know the best way to improve your programming skills is by... well, programming. You won't get anywhere if all you do is read books without trying the real thing at all, so if I were you, I would worry less about sinking time in theory and more about securing time in practice. If you want to be a writer, becoming a reader should be at best secondary to becoming a writer. In fact, if you want to improve your craft with theory, I would prioritize small, condensed metalinguistic articles on how to write over other people's novels, specially for style matters. In fact, I would spend more time daydreaming than reading other people's works if you want yours to be truly personal and original, and potentially very consistent if you keep hammering and brewing it day and night inside your head.

4

If you want to write, "writing" is always the right answer! There's no "should" about it, just do. However, regardless of your age and literary background, don't expect it to be good. That's not why you write, right? You write because there's something in you telling you to write. But you'll get there. Here's what I suggest.

  1. Start writing your novel. Write whatever comes to you, even if that's dialogue snippets one minute and plot outlines the next. Even if it's just a cool quote you come up with that you'd like to use or a character background. Not everything you write will end up in the novel, but writing it all down is an important part of the process.
  2. Write everything without worrying about editing yet. At the same time, get rid of anything that's holding it back. So basically, just write what comes, even if you know at the time that you don't like it, because any writing that wants to be good should expect to be reviewed a functionally infinite number of times. That way, you don't have to worry about doing it now. But once you identify something that just isn't working, drop it! It can be hard if you really like it, but that's why I keep other documents around and I'll cut the part out and paste it into a note, maybe for later or maybe just because I like it.
  3. Write other stuff, too. You always need to work on your writing chops, so whatever floats your boat--poetry, short screenplays, short stories, whatever. There are always small writing challenges going on in different writer's communities, so that can be helpful for ideas and to get you started.
  4. Speaking of writer's communities, if you can find some people in meatspace or online who also enjoy writing and thinking about writing, that can just be really nice in ways that you won't really know until it comes up somehow.
  5. Start fixing your reading deficit. Reading is really, really important to writing. It's all part of really knowing language inside and out. Since you want to get a lot of reading under your belt, there's no reason to start with anything daunting, so pick a couple things you know are right down your alley. You can even kick it off by re-reading your favorite novel, if you have one. If there's an author or a topic you are into, start there and dive in. More reading is better, and it doesn't have to be the "right" reading. The more "good" writing you read, the better, but just getting started is the important part. Oh, and if you start something and just can't get into it, set it aside and pick up something else. Maybe you'll like it later or maybe you won't--the most accomplished readers have plenty of books on their "Can't/Won't do it" list, and plenty of those are standards of literature. For me, I love Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte) and hate Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte). Also, Proust can get lost. But that's just me. If nothing else, read something you were/are supposed to read for school.

Anyway, those are the things that I think you'll find common to all writers, whether they're bestselling authors or fanfic writers or at-home literary doodlers.

EDIT: Oh, if you like Goosebumps, try The Haunted Looking Glass! It's a collection of Edward Gorey's favorite short horror stories, all by accomplished authors. And ignore the people who say Goosebumps doesn't count. Everything counts, especially if you enjoy it. Reading without joy is no better than reading shipping forecasts. The more you read anything, the more you'll come to appreciate reading in general.

2

Oh, yes, yes, yes - please write without fear. Don't ever think that there are insurmountable obstacles to anything you truly want to do, and this includes writing.

There's a saying: feel the fear and do it anyway. You might be afraid that you 'do not have enough knowledge about the book-reading community as to what pleases them', but never, ever let this kind of thing hold you back. We learn by doing, not by thinking (or fearing).

When you look at what people write about (and this includes famous and rich authors), you'll see that it's usually the people, scenes and things around them. Sure, they sometimes modify and rearrange these when they write about them. They place the people in schools where they learn magic instead of maths. They put captains in charge of space fleets instead of a chain of supermarkets. They show them thwarting alien invasions instead of bullies at school. But at the core of these stories about hope, despair, fear and triumph is the human spirit and how it reacts to the difficulties found in life.

So sure, read books if you want, but know that these just contain second-hand experiences. To go directly to the source of all inspiration, just look about you, home in one something that you find to be interesting and write about that.

I suppose it wouldn't go to waste if you also read a couple of books on how to do Creative Writing.

Good luck with your future endeavours.

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