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YOUR WRITING IDOLS

February 17, 2021

            Every writer has other writers they tend to idolize, emulate, admire, copy, give a nod to, or at least are somehow influenced by. For many, it’s a host of authors.

            My list is long. I’ve mentioned them numerous times here at Fred Central.

            If you go to the thank you and dedication pages of many a book, you’ll often find mentions of these authors. Some authors don’t, while some writers, who are not published yet, may or may not tout their favorites.

            Nobody starts writing from a vacuum.

INFLUENCES

            Many writers develop styles that emulate their favorite writers. It comes naturally. After reading obsessively and enjoying the writing of someone for years, maybe decades, when one takes up the passion (or hobby) of writing, it’s a natural progression to be influenced by those you admire. It could be one writer or a blend of many.

            I’ve seen a lot of blends, such as myself, which, depending on which genre I’m writing, can emulate, to a degree, everyone from Clive Cussler to Carol Davis Luce to Lester Dent, to Edgar Rice Burroughs to Franklin W. Dixon, to R. Karl Largent, to well…the list goes on.

            I just read a book not long ago that emulated the style of Cormak McCarthy and I almost stopped reading. I ended up finishing it, but the lack of punctuation was so off-putting, I struggled to get through it. It was a horrible experience.

            On the other hand, I’ve read plenty of novels influenced by my favorites, such as Clive Cussler or Lee Child, or Preston & Child, or James Rollins that were outstanding. These novels kept me glued to my seat.

            I’m sure the same could be said for genres I don’t read.

EMULATE VERSUS COPY

            This gets into the realm of being a clone, something writers worry about all the time.

            The thing about copying or emulating some other author is that unless you use the exact same names and exact same plots, or exact same devices, even though you may be emulating a favorite author, you’re still telling a story in your own voice.

            If you recall from past articles here, I’ve said repeatedly that every plot and every possible story twist has been done before. What makes them unique is that no matter what way you tell it, it’s in your voice and your voice is unique. THAT’s what makes your story yours. Not the plot, or the trope or the cliché, but the VOICE.

            You can emulate a favorite author all you want, but as long as you choose your own path and don’t try to copy their book exactly, you can own your own story.

            That, my friends, has been going on since books first existed.

            Some schmuck wrote a story.

            Then another schmuck wrote that same story with a twist.

            Then another schmuck wrote that story again with another twist.

            Mix and match, so on and so forth.

            What made each one different?

            Voice.

SUMMARY

            It’s great to emulate your favorite writers.

            It’s not great to copy your favorite writers.

            Unless you rewrite their novels and add a new title, you can’t help but add your own outside influences and make them your own. That voice of yours makes them a different flavor in the mix, something unique.

            When someone asks you what your book is about, you can say it’s about such and such and it’s similar to so and so. That’s it. You don’t need to add that it’s not a clone of so and so, it’s just similar, or in the same style. You shouldn’t have to make that distinction.

            I write Agatha Christie type mysteries.

            I write Clive Cussler type adventures.

            I write Lee Child type thrillers.

            I write Zane Grey type westerns.

            I write Nora Roberts type romances.

            You can say you’re not like anyone else, but more than likely…

            Happy writing!

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