Imitation

(Don’t forget the Denver Worldcon writing meetup!)

Do you find that when you’re reading something that affects you strongly, that author’s style will come creeping into your own writing? Do you worry about this alteration of style, fearing that it will affect your own voice? Try this. Have some people read your work in progress (no really, it’s good for you anyway). See if they can tell when you started reading a book that changed your style, and for bonus points, see if they can tell who you were reading.

I’ve done this and found that nobody could tell. When I think I’m imitating someone, it’s really just a matter of a word choice here and there, that doesn’t really make for a whole style change. So perhaps it’s not something to worry about. But if your style change is more drastic, at least the test above will let you know.

Imitating other writers is something that’s been argued about for a long time. The argument phases in and out of the other argument, about whether fan fiction is okay. I think it is–as far as writing practice and sharing with other fans goes–but it isn’t the row I want to hoe. I am more interested in creating my own worlds than in extending someone else’s creation. Likewise, I prefer to improve my own style and voice, rather than imitate someone else’s. That said, I think it is something most starting writers go through, as a way of building up their toolbox, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I certainly did, in high school. I even wrote a fan fiction, although it took a sharp left turn into somewhere-else-land about halfway through.

No, that will not be showing up on the Free Reads page. 😛

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