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DystopianGypsy
06-12-2010, 08:03 AM
For most, writing is a refelction of all that you've observed, experienced, and read. For me, it's a mimicking of the writing of the author whose work I've most recently read; I just sort of unwittingly and inadvertently parrot their style (I wish it were otherwise).

Can anyone here relate? Is this common? Or, if at least in this one respect, am I an outlier?

nighttimer
06-12-2010, 08:30 AM
For most, writing is a refelction of all that you've observed, experienced, and read. For me, it's a mimicking of the writing of the author whose work I've most recently read; I just sort of unwittingly and inadvertently parrot their style (I wish it were otherwise).

Can anyone here relate? Is this common? Or, if at least in this one respect, am I an outlier?

There's nothing wrong with being inspired or influenced by another author. Almost everyone is. The trick is to be a good original and not a bad copy.

To become a better writer you should read better writers. Figure out what it they are doing right that you're doing wrong and then do that. Just do it your way and do it better.

If you find yourself imitating another writer, that doesn't have to be a bad thing, especially if you are a young or a new writer. However, you should be conscious of exactly how you are imitating him - word choice, sentence structure, motifs? - and think about why you're doing it.

~ Poppy Z. Brite

kaitie
06-12-2010, 04:42 PM
I just mentioned this in another thread, but if I'm reading and really into a book and it's similar in style to something I'd write, I definitely find myself slipping into that voice. I also can't edit one work and write another at the same time most of the time because I have to basically slip wholeheartedly into the voice I'm trying to write in, and it's difficult in those cases.

Hence I avoid any book that bears any semblance to my own. Works wonders. ;)

donroc
06-12-2010, 05:06 PM
In Hollywood they call it homage, French pronunciation of course. :D

Wayne K
06-12-2010, 05:10 PM
I steal a little bit of all my favorite writers and writings. I hope someday someone steals something from me.

Its the game yo

Kalyke
06-12-2010, 06:43 PM
The title of this post is a little misleading. You are talking about mimicking a style, not copying an author. I know that creative writing is hard, or impossible to teach. The way writer's learn is to read other authors. I think of this as "influence" rather than "copying."

I was influenced by a list of authors. When I am confused, or need to learn something, I go back to my "teachers" and try to discover how they would have solved the problem.

There is nothing really wrong with it.

"Stealing" on the other hand, as in Plagiarizing, is professional suicide.

Jamesaritchie
06-12-2010, 07:31 PM
I honestly don't think there's any other way to learn how to write well. This is a big part of why you have to read a million books to be a good writer.

happywritermom
06-12-2010, 07:32 PM
I can't say I've ever intentionally mimicked or imitated the style of another author. I actually have a huge psychological block when it comes to that kind of stuff. If I try to write "like" anyone else, I find I can't do it.

But, like Use Her Name , I do sometimes search the works of authors I admire for inspiration of for potential solutions to problems within WIPs.

Gillhoughly
06-12-2010, 07:51 PM
When you're learning to play a musical instrument you play songs written by others, you may try to mimic their style of playing.

Do that enough and you eventually get tired of it and go with YOUR style of playing. That's your own voice kicking in.

As Joe Bob Briggs said, "What you write doesn't matter. It's the practice that matters."

I used to try to write like Stephen King, then I realized I didn't like how he wrote; in fact, his sloppiness annoyed the heck out of me. I also used to try and write like Raymond Chandler, Lois Bujold, A.C.Doyle... (wasn't on their level). That was my own voice kicking in.

And hey, it worked out.

Libbie
06-12-2010, 09:30 PM
Nighttimer posted a great quote from Brite. It's so correct. There's nothing wrong with imitating a writer (as long as you're not actually plagiarizing, of course). But you need to know what about your writing is reflective of that other writer.

For myself, I most definitely do, consciously even, bring some of the sentence structure and unusual word choices (such as repeated words within paragraphs, internal rhyme, transposition of sensory experiences) that I admire in Vladimir Nabokov's writing, and have lately begun incorporating the stuff I like about F. Scott Fitzgerald's writing as well. I have my own voice, but part of it was built on the things I love about these other authors' works.

I think it's very normal to show admiration for other authors' good taste by adding a little of their flair to your writing. You just need to know what you're adding and why.

Becky Black
06-14-2010, 01:48 PM
For me the best way to avoid this is to try to read a lot of different kinds of books - non fiction too, not only novels. I had to break a habit I had of when I found a new author I liked going and getting all of their books and reading them one after another. Now I will still want to read the rest of that author's books, but I'll spread them out and mix them up between other books and other types of books.

shaldna
06-16-2010, 03:39 PM
if you can read and identify what is good in others, and if it works with your style to incorperate an element of that into your work, then this is a good thing.

However, be wary of forcing yourself to write in a style that does not meld well.