Learn From Others

Reading so many books helped shape my author career. My style, writing mechanics, and storytelling ability is because of these authors and what they wrote. I’m sure there are many authors you have read that are not on this list and there are many more I should have mentioned.

In fact, I can make another top 25 list tomorrow.

Keep in mind that my genre is Psychological Thriller and Suspense. Here are the top 25 books that changed my career:

25.  “The Simple Plan” by Scott Smith. (Scott inspired me to write, when his first novel was picked up to be a movie. At the time, I thought, “How cool is that.” I have matured since then.)

24. “Promise Me,” by Harlan Coben. (Harlan got his first big break and never looked back.)

23. “The Brethren,” by John Grisham. (John sold his books from the trunk of his car and wondered, “Maybe I’m not that good.” Thanks for sticking with it, John.)

22. “Cut and Run,” by Ridley Pearson. (No mercy in his writing. Get to the point and don’t let go.)

21. “The Three Musketeers,” by Alex Andre Dumas. (Alex showed me how mechanics in writing is just as important as a great story.)

20. “Two Dollar Bill,” by Stuart Woods. (Stuart taught me how to increase the speed of a book through dialogue.)

19. “R is for Ricochet,” by Sue Grafton. (Stuart Woods increases speed through dialogue, while Sue Grafton does it with her descriptions.)

18. “The Outsiders,” by S.E. Hinton. (No matter if you are 16-years-old or 60, you can have a career as an author.)

17. “High Five,” by Janet Evanovich. (Add humor to your mysteries to keep your audience entertained. Know your target reader.)

16. “Most Dangerous Fortune,” by Ken Follett. (Ken motivated me to write a book with characters so full of life, they tell the story on their own. Ken also said to me, “If you do not have time to read, then you do not have time to be an author.” Thanks for that perfect advice. I will pass that along to every author that comes across my path.)

15. “Cape Refuge,” by Terri Blackstock. (I picked up a copy of Terri’s book from our church library and recently met Terri on Facebook. Terri inspires through faith in her words.)

14. “The Husband,” by Dean Koontz. (Dean changed his style to reach a larger audience. You can look at it two ways. He sold out his fans to make more money. Or he changed to sell more books.)

13. “State of Fear,” by Michael Crichton. (Crichton showed me how to take current events and mix in the perfect amount of fiction to scare the heck out of people. I pray that Crichton is still writing in heaven. You are missed.)

12. “City of Bones,” by Michael Connelly. (Connelly takes his darkest and most fearful memories and writes about them. There is more truth in his writing than fiction, but not many people realize that.)

11. “The Collectors,” by David Baldacci. (David showed me how to take multiple plots and bring them together for an explosive finish.)

10. “By Reason of Insanity,” by Shane Stevens. (Shane refuses to use gore or swear words to write a great thriller. For most suspense writers, this can be difficult, but stretches the author’s ability to tell a good story without special effects.)

On the other hand…

9. “The Dark Half,” by Stephen King. (Stephen is tough on other authors, because he was poor and had to work hard to get where he is today. He expects all authors to go through the same humbling moments, to achieve greatness.)

8. “Sail,” by James Patterson. (James taught me to write my stories “Like a runaway freight train.” Speed with short chapters, speed with short paragraphs, speed in plot.)

7. “Paranoia,” by Joseph Finder. (A strong lead character is crucial. Mix in every element to please the reader: Mystery, suspense, thrill’s, comedy, romance, and supporting characters that anyone can relate. This is how to stretch your audience.)

6. “Marathon Man,” by William Goldman. (I’m not positive, but I think when I was in sixth grade, I did a book report on Marathon Man, which will make it my very first novel I ever read.)

5. “Double-Impact,” by Tess Gerritsen. (Tess showed me how to push suspense to levels that will keep the reader turning the page. Anything less and my book will be a failure.)

4. “Level 26,” by Anthony Zuiker. (Anthony has done so many great things in his life with television, it only makes sense that he writes about a perfect serial killer. Anthony showed me how to take risks in my writing.)

3. “Chill Factor,” by Sandra Brown. (Sandra taught me that a novel can be written without flaw. This is the ideal book to learn how to be a fiction writer.)

2. “Timeline,” by Michael Crichton. (There are two worlds that need to be mixed together with seamless precision. Michael introduced me to those worlds.)

1. “Whiteout,” by Ken Follett. (Everyone has a favorite book. Over the years, Ken has taught me the most about being an author and writing novels that entertain. I mention this book because Ken does not like writing in this genre, but gives the audience what they want.

It’s tough being an author, because if you want to sell millions of books, you need to appeal to millions of readers. Are you willing to study the market and change your writing accordingly? Are you willing to learn from the best? Every author on this list wrote one book for them and one book for others, then continued with that pattern.)

Read books in your genre. One novel is equal to taking a hundred classes on the subject. Learn from the best…so one day, I’ll put your name on this list.

Ron Knight

Author of “2-10”

Six Chapter Preview: www.upauthors.com/authors/ronknight

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Contact: melissa@scbranding.com

Ron Knight

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