Think sideways

Eureka! (image courtesy of

Eureka! (image courtesy of

That’s the message for this week. Well it’s actually a message from Holly Lisle. If you have never heard of her, Holly is an American science fiction and fantasy writer among other things. Holly has won many awards for her writing, has published thirty-one novels since 1991 and runs her own writing courses, one of which is How To Think Sideways: Career Survival School for Writers. I have been following Holly for years and I recommend her excellent advice and blog, her website is full of great content that will improve your writing, I am sure of that.

What I really wanted to share with you today is a report of 396 books Holly put together back in 2007 from the suggestions and recommendations of fifty-seven of her readers. You are meant to write about what you know, but most of us know a little about a lot, and a lot about a little. The remedy is to read widely and research your stories. We all know this, but I wonder how many of us read with tunnel vision, just picking up books we know we’ll like, I do this myself. But we are missing out on genre’s we will never try, and authors we discount because they write ‘fantasy’ or ‘romance’ for example and you tried those once and didn’t like them.

So, I urge you to download the report Lisle-396_Books_Writers_Recommend, it’s a free resource from Holly and ‘You may freely GIVE AWAY or RESELL this report so long as it remains in its complete, unaltered form and in PDF format. You may also share its content with others.’

The report is a compilation of fantasy, romance, history, science, reference books and more. it’s a goldmine because it will open you up to reading things that you may never have considered before. It worked for me, I still refer to the report now, and checking back to last week’s blog post I also use my local library to source the books, it costs me nothing and I can borrow what I like.

In Holly’s words…

If you only read in the genre you want to write in, you’re missing 95% of the planet, 95% of the possible ideas you could get, 95% of the jobs your characters could have, 95% of the cultures they could come from, 95% of everything. “The saying “Write what you know,” is a call to action. The unsaid second part of it is, “…And know more.



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