25 October 2011 - 8:36 pm

Garbage in, garbage out

Or, why writers shouldn’t read Twilight

Anyone familiar with software development or computer programming will be familiar with the ‘garbage in, garbage out’ principle (you get the same quality of material out that you feed in). Until the Digital Writer’s Conference, I hadn’t heard this term applied to writing before.

In Christy Dena’s address, she said that writers should keep this in mind too. The quality of writing  that you expose yourself to will affect the writing that you produce.

It’s not as simple as that, but the theory is sound. It’s a fact that the style and quality of what you read can affect how and what you write, from phrasing to mood to literary quirks. It’s not a bad thing in itself, but if you’re reading crap, then that’s likely to influence what you’re producing.

I believe that writers should always strive to improve their skills and craft, and should read as much as possible. Absorbing tips and tricks from high-quality writing is good and can lead to a honing of your style. Learning what is bad or wrong in writing is valuable too; that’s how we learn what not to do. But we should be careful that reading second-rate material doesn’t drag us down!

Definitely worth bearing in mind. Support good writing and let it support you. The next time you think about picking up a trashy novel, do what’s good for your writing: make it something worthwhile!

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  1. Evie Applegate says:

    It’s too late for me, I already read Twilight. 😛 Just the first book though. I’ve found it an interesting exercise to read something really bad and analyse what it is I don’t like about it (Cassie Edwards is good for that, She’s a plagiarist, doesn’t do her research properly, is often quite racist and continually repeats herself) but yeah, if you do it too much it can rub off on you. Besides, life’s too short to waste too much time reading bad books.

    November 12th, 2011 at 12:56 pm

  2. Mel says:

    So true, Evie! Why waste time on something that is just not worth it?

    November 17th, 2011 at 6:14 pm