Writing what you read.

A question has been ping ponging around in my mind, and I don’t have an answer yet.

I love reading upper middle grade.

Every trip to the library I scour the shelves for any new books or older books that have hidden from me. But I like a certain kind of middle grade. I’d say it’s the same kind of middle grade I try to write – heart, humor, and suspense. (Okay, sometimes, I have a dark streak that appears in some of my stories or ideas. Like a morbid ghost story pops up out of nowhere. Just like I enjoy a dark story at times).

And, so far, I’ve only ever written upper middle grade.  Ya know – the whole write what you love.

I also love YA.

But I’ve never written it.

Do you always write what you love to read? Do you ever stray from that? And do you ever wonder if you’ve been trying to write in the wrong genre? Or with the wrong approach? Or dark vs light?

27 Responses to Writing what you read.

  1. Quinn September 15, 2010 at 6:16 am #

    I love reading YA and that’s what I write. In my writing, I tend to lean toward darker, edgier, older topics. When reading, I gravitate toward these as well; although, I do enjoy lighter stuff.

    I’m am going to try branching out and writing a short story. I never read short stories. I’m not exactly how to start either because I’m unfamiliar with it.

    It think you can branch out, but generally, you write something because you like it and if you like it, you’re going to read it.

    • Laura September 15, 2010 at 10:25 am #

      That’s my problem I like several different types, so not sure which direction to head right now.

  2. Carole Anne Carr September 15, 2010 at 11:26 am #

    Hmmm… I read psychology, spiritual thinkers and teachers, so not much help there re my children’s books – though come to think of it, maybe indirectly! :0)

  3. patti September 15, 2010 at 11:39 am #

    Oh, i read EVERYTHING from heavy bios to sci fi, literary to popular to Christian to YA.

    AND snippets of all those stories somehow get woven into my work.

    Praise God for great books!!!

  4. Laura September 15, 2010 at 12:08 pm #

    Carole and Patti – I have to agree with you there that all kinds of reading helps writing. Nonfiction is especially helpful!

  5. Benoit Lelievre September 15, 2010 at 12:12 pm #


    One thing sure, I am always aiming to continue in the line of thought of those I admire the most. I think that’s how most of us get started one way or another.

    I like Literary novels, but I’m not able to write without the conventions of plotting, pace, etc. But neither is Dennis Lehane, my favorite writer. He started with the plot-driven Patrick Kenzie stories.

    I think every one of us pick up a pen, inspired by writers we love. In my case: Dennis Lehane, Henry Rollins, Hunter S. Thompson & F.S Fitzgerald.

    • Laura September 15, 2010 at 12:14 pm #

      Benoit – I agree. We get inspired. But then I have to make sure I’m not writing like authors I love or inadvertantly copying charachters!

  6. kris September 15, 2010 at 12:16 pm #

    I love upper Middle Grade, too. But I’ve yet to try my hand at it. I’ve been writing YA recently, and I’ve written some PBs in the past. I am writing middle grade nonfiction, so I’m sort of in the language/sentence length mode…one of these days…

    • Laura September 15, 2010 at 12:18 pm #

      Kris Just think how much your nonfiction will help your fiction though! Besides the income part of it. 🙂

  7. Kelly B September 15, 2010 at 1:13 pm #

    I write what I feel. I love to read across genre’s but I am most in my element writing family stories and romantic comedy. I love creating families that are diverse and different but still family.

    I say write what you feel and what you love. How can you go wrong?

  8. Kelly Polark September 15, 2010 at 1:31 pm #

    My problem is I love it all. I adore picture books, love mg, and read YA too. Actually hardly read adult fiction at all (except Sookie Stackhouse books).
    I’ve written picture book manuscripts, have an mg ms going and one day would love to write ya. So yes, I guess I do write what I love 🙂

  9. Laura Pauling September 15, 2010 at 1:38 pm #

    Kelly B – I def. end up writing about friendships/relationships at the core.

    Kelly p. – me too! I love all different genres and age groups! I guess that’s why it’s hard for me to follow the write what you love/read!

  10. Anna September 15, 2010 at 2:20 pm #

    You know, I’m the same way. I write mostly MG though I also love YA. It’s only been in the past year that I’ve really tried to write YA and it’s been a challenge. MG just comes more naturally to me, but it’s fun to push myself to work on things out of my comfort zone.

  11. Benoit Lelievre September 15, 2010 at 3:06 pm #

    Laura, hot-stuff writer of the moment Jonathan Franzen explained, you have to learn writing with “training wheels”. You have to follow somebody before going on your own. One novel might look like a particular writer, but with maturity comes style definition I think.

    • Laura September 15, 2010 at 3:20 pm #

      Benoit – You make a very good point. Training wheels. I’m trying to break away and ride on my own.

      Anna – If I try YA, it would be to stretch myself and grow as a writer.

  12. Susan R. Mills September 15, 2010 at 4:01 pm #

    My first attempts at writing were in the adult genre. This didn’t go so well for me. Then when my daughter became a teenager, I started reading some of what she was reading. I was hooked on YA, and decided to try writing it. I’ll read just about anything, but for now, I’ll only write YA.

  13. Bekah September 15, 2010 at 4:51 pm #

    I try to read several different things so I can blend them into whatever story. I grab middle grade if I am writing middle grade so that I can stay in that language format. I read YA, but I am not sure I’ll write it.

    • Laura September 15, 2010 at 5:00 pm #

      Bekah – that’s why it’s good to read, read, read!

      Susan – I guess with my teaching background, I never even thought about writing for adults. I’m pretty sure I won’t either. 🙂

  14. Karen Strong September 16, 2010 at 1:17 am #

    Interesting question, Laura.

    I started out on my writing journey writing only MG. I read a lot of YA but didn’t write it. I actually fought against it. But now that is what my current writing project is — YA.

    One of the reasons I love writing MG is that your characters don’t have too many heavy burdens to deal with and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to write about YA burdens.

  15. Creepy Query Girl September 16, 2010 at 11:35 am #

    Huh. Really good questions. I def. write what I like to read. I basically write the stories that I want to read but can’t because they aren’t written yet. I love YA, Romance, Humor, with a little Fear and Suspense mixed in there. I’m pretty sure YA is my genre, though I might attempt writing an adult romance some day.

  16. Laura Marcella September 16, 2010 at 3:36 pm #

    I love to read everything (except horror) so I want to write a little bit of everything, too! But I have a softspot for middle-grade, so I think I might try and begin my career there before I try other genres (I say “might” because though I’m writing a MG novel now, I’m also writing short stories for adults and planning an adult novel for NaNo this year). I read somewhere that it’s great to write in many genres but you should start your career with one specific genre and then branch out once you’re established. I think that’s pretty good advice!

  17. angela September 16, 2010 at 8:44 pm #

    I write kin dof all over the place, but the funny thing is, the books I love most are not quite what I write. It might be the same style, but always I end up writing for a ‘in between’ type audience from the books I love. I love upper MG, but write lower end. I love YA, but write tween.

    But then that’s me–I write as it comes!

    Angela @ The bookshelf Muse

  18. Jackee September 16, 2010 at 9:04 pm #

    My answer is not necessarily. (How’s that for nebulous?? lol) Some times we need an escape from what we write just as some times I think we need to escape from what we read. Wide and general can only help us grow as writers. And though I write YA and upper MG, I read a lot of PBs. Something I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to write. (However, if you try your hand at YA you might find it’s not that far of a jump from upper MG. Like I did. :))


  19. Julie Musil September 16, 2010 at 10:53 pm #

    It’s funny you mention this. I’ve written picture books, nonfiction, and a middle grade novel. But once I started reading YA, I fell in love. My current wip is YA, so it’s true, I suppose you write what you love.

  20. Susan Kaye Quinn September 17, 2010 at 12:17 am #

    I would say that I write what I read, twisted together with some strange amalgamation of everything I ever read before plus some strange stuff that is uniquely me-now-today. That ends up meaning I write a lot of different things, from MG SF to YA love stories to YA paranormal.


    • Laura September 17, 2010 at 12:30 am #

      Thanks everyone! From what everyone says, we don’t always write what we love. But sometimes we do. And yes, upper mg is not far from YA. I’m going to keep kicking around idea and go for the one that I’d want to read. we’ll see. Thanks for sharing, everyone!

  21. Simon Hay September 17, 2010 at 8:42 am #

    I write about my life and work, but I’m reading a lot of YA at the moment and I’m loving it! I think you should love what you’re writing, but you should read everything.

Leave a Reply