So I'm still in the middle of my MS rewrite, and to save myself from going insane I decided to take a couple of days off to just READ. My TBR pile is getting out of control, so it was time to put a dent in it. Some of the books I've accumulated are totally outside what I'd normally read, but I'd heard great things about them. So I decided to give them a go.
I am SO GLAD I did. For context, I usually read YA fantasy and happy-ish contemporary when I feel like a break from magic/strange creatures/quests and the likes. This time I decided to delve into...darker books. One is a dystopian (I think - it's so BOLD I'm not entirely sure if this is the right category) and the other is pretty dark contemporary*. What did they teach me? That there are so many amazing books out there that I otherwise wouldn't have tried because they aren't 'my usual type of book'. They also taught me some writer-type things.
I have a couple of characters bouncing around in my head, and before reading these books I couldn't find their story. I've hammered out so many drafts, and scrapped each one in frustration. Why? These characters have a darker story to tell than I normally write, and I didn't appreciate that until now. The book won't be anything like the books I've just read, to be clear, but the point is I wouldn't have known what was missing without opening myself up to new reading experiences. How to explore themes and characters that don't have their HEA. How to capture deep, dark feelings and do them justice.
This doesn't mean I'll stop writing my usual style of fantasy by any means. It isn't always 'happy', but it isn't particularly dark. But now, I'm open to exploring new dimensions in my writing. All thanks to a simple little step outside my comfort zone.
If it isn't clear by now, lol, I HIGHLY recommend you read outside your normal spectrum. You'll learn so much in the process, and might find some unexpected gems to love.
*If you're curious, the books I'm referring to are ONLY EVER YOURS by Louise O'Neill, and FORBIDDEN by Tabitha Suzuma. They aren't easy reads by any means and they will NOT be for everyone, but they are amazing. Just saying.