Writing Like Other Authors

It’s one thing to find one’s own voice in writing. I think I found mine, but I’m still working on the details. The difficult part that I’ve found in writing Molly Parker is that I have to use radically different writing voices in it. I have to write like Stephanie Meyer.

That’s hard. It’s really hard. I have my writerly instincts that I strictly obey. Which is easy, it’s how things sound in my head (just put on a page). My writerly instincts tell me about word choice as well as grammatical rules and rule breaking when appropriate. And I’ve grown accustomed to it. It’s always there, even in everyday normal life when I look at how something is put together – always there. So now I have to write in a different voice.

I did it. I wrote a section of prose like Stephanie Meyer. About 2.2k words for the first part of a novel.

HARD

It’s harder than coming up with what comes next. It strains my mind to think in a terribly different way, and one that is terribly written. Thoughts don’t flow in the right way, they get constrained in estranged syntax and word choice. The way that authors like Stephanie Meyer or EL James decide to go off on a tangent is mystifying to me. How they describe things is becoming more apparent, but good lord is it a strange way of seeing the world. As a writer, it’s the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. But it’s addicting.

God is it addicting – probably because it’s so hard. And after a while, it becomes fun. Writing in such a dilapidated prose it gives me license to do ridiculous things. Throw words in where they don’t belong and butcher the english language into a salad of adjectives and adverbs along with pointless mental notes from the character. The world no longer really appears as it does – instead it appears childish and false.

Falseness is the difficulty in the end. The world looks wrong. It looks like a child’s point of view. Rather than flowing prose that connects and directs the reader’s imagination it distorts the world or half asses an attempt to produce a reproduction that rings not false but not quite true. It’s anti-writing in that sense. To create a world without the accuracy and to attempt accuracy with the wrong tools. Description is a big one that is horribly wrong. Rather than writing a detailed description like Nabokov : found himself in a small courtyard, filled with various parts of the dismantled moon – thus conjuring up the shadows and pillars. With Meyers we would get: the courtyard was lit by the moon with pillars breaking the bright luminescent blue light.

To be honest though, I’m not alone in the endeavor. I learned how to write like the way I am by reading Nabokov’s Invitation to a Beheading. The prose in it is beautiful. It hurts to read it because I never will achieve that style of writing ever in my life. So my bad writing is an attempt to create a bad facsimile of it. I think of the lurid prose and try to copy it with just adjectives attached to nouns in descriptions. No flow, no gorgeous descriptions flowing from sentence to sentence weaving their way into my mind to form a beautiful tapestry that seems full yet open to the imagination. Nope. Just a bad attempt and out comes Stephanie Meyer. I then read Fifty Shades of Grey and go over it again with an inner EL James.

Writing like other writers is hard. It’s difficult to copy the idiosyncrasies of other writers because the thought process is so radically different. I think it’s actually why we like to read. The world in the book is through the perspective of a writer’s mind. All the quirks and sideways thinking permeate the pages and we love it. To copy it is to literally get inside the head of another human being, to see the world through their eyes. I almost have EL James, and I think I know how to get inside Stephanie Meyer’s mind, but it’ll always be disconnected. I’ll never fully realize why they decided to go on a tangent where they did or over describe what they chose. It’ll always just be there. At least I have a short cut for part of it. But the sex scenes, that’s different. Then I’ll really have to get inside someone’s head and hope for the best.

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6 responses to “Writing Like Other Authors

  1. I, too, enjoy writing in other voices, once I get into it. My NaNo novel is in first person, so I had to get into the head of my main character, who is a man. I’m not a man. It was different. But then I love writing men. They’re such fascinating creatures… 🙂

  2. Your characters have the most important voices. The author can have a voice but not intrusive. Good authors insert a point of view. George Orwell describes well, as does Mark Twain. There is no greater description than Sunrise on the Mississippi.

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