1. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    what you read vs what you write

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Tesoro, Dec 28, 2011.

    Lately I have noticed my writing seem to be influenced by the books of a few writers I used to read when I was younger, even though I haven't read much of them since, but many other instead that doesn't seem to have affected my writing very much, and I wonder:

    Does all the books we read influence the way we write or just the ones we like/appreciate the most?

    or, put in another way:

    Does it serve any purpose (for developing our writing-skill) to study the work of authors we don't understand or appreciate?
     
  2. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    I would say that the best ones will definetely influence your thinking then your writing.
    Naturally the ones that stand out in your mind are the ones that will one way or another influence your writing.
    It is up to you after that not to sound like them but more like you..like the saying '' finding your own feet'' is something you will have to do for yourself.
    In other words we are all influenced by everyhting around us but the ones that stand out the most, who do not sound repetitve or samy, are the one that pick the best out of everything that surrounds them and make something genuine and original out of it.
     
  3. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    These two questions are very different, I don't know why you think they aren't, so I'll answer them both.
    1) I think everything we see and do, never mind what we read, will influence our writing, because it's an influence on our personality. However, to be a good writer you do still have to be a good reader, but also a good observer.
    2) Yes, and not just writers you don't appreciate, but also writers you very much appreciate.
     
  4. Eunoia
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    Eunoia Contributing Member Contributor

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    Mostly the same as Lemex.

    I think everything we see and do, as well as read obviously, has an influence on our writing. You can learn from books you like and dislike, for example by how writers do things correctly and how writers don't do things well.

    There's such a variety of writers so we're not going to appreciate every one. But studying a range of writers, both that we appreciate and don't, will help us to develop our writing.
     
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  5. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Exactly right. I've got a handful of writers I've read over and over, and really studied; obviously you can't do it with every writer, but a verity of writers you really taken time with will really really help.
     
  6. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    Ditto.
     
  7. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    So basically you're saying that reading books that are considered "good literature" will influence you're writing even though you didn't like them or understood what was supposed to be good about them?
     
  8. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Insomuch that it will lead you to not do the things that (you feel) don't work well.

    I don't think I'd have the patience to read certain works though, just for that reason alone.
     
  9. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    My son studied Shakespheare and thought it was horrible. (He doesn't like tragedies.) I told him to put the effort in to study it even if he doesn't love it because there are many times that you miss hidden meanings or fuller meanings becuase you donn't have the background knowledge to make sense of what is being said. (Like kids not getting the humor put in their movies to entertain the adults) So a few months later there was a reference to one of Shakespheare's plays in a conversation and my son looked at me with an 'Oh I get it' look.
    So yes reading things (even if your don't love it) is helpful.
     
  10. iabanon
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    iabanon Member

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    I'm, careful that I don't read same genre that I'm writing. For example if I'm writing my kid's fantasy novel no way I'll look at another already published. I don't to see something that I might use anyway or accidentally copy an idea. I have been working so hard to make my story as original with my own voice as possible. Bloody hard work that. I'm aware that I grew up on Narnia Chronicles so they could influence me strongly. But I am aware.
    On the flip side I have started reading Chuck Palahniuk because I'm writing my current story in First person POV and he does it so well and with such character and flavour. I already have a strong plot and my characters are nothing like his. So I'm safe.
     
  11. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I know that Rumer Godden's writing has enormously influenced my writing, especially my writing of dialogue. As a child, I read all of her children's books, over and over - I'd guess that every week or two I took at least one of her books home from the library.

    Someone on this forum pointed out that her style is _very_ specific to her, and that if I use too much of it, it's going to look like imitation. I appreciated the advice and I reluctantly agree, though I've internalized her writing so much that eliminating that style is almost like cutting out a bit of my own voice.

    That's the only specific example that I can think of, though I'm sure that there are more.
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    yes to the first part of the first question... and yes to the second question... period!
     
  13. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    I feel the same towards tragedies and Shakespeare.
    I have tried to read his works and even went to watch a play (Macbeth) ( I was made to actually) I just can get into it.
    Some language/words he uses I find off putting and yes the idea of death is always almots present which I find depressing.
     
  14. haribol
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    haribol Member

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    I am a voracious reader and I read whatever books come my way and in my childhood I had no choice of books and I read anyone I came across and now I am amazed to see all my previous readings, sources of knowledge influencing what I write and I remember more what I had read in my earlier days than what I have read in the ensuing days.

    Today I have been reading a variety of books and they range widely and though some of them are not interesting and I read for the sale of reading thinking their ranking among the best. I have been reading Ulysses one of the most un-fascinating books and yet I like this since this is one of the few most appraised and acclaimed books stylistically speaking.
     
  15. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm pretty sure i wrote an answer to this post yesterday but somehow- it's not here!
    All I wanted to say was that is was a good point, and that there is probably something to learn, even if not about writing, from most of the things we read, or at least it makes us look differently at things we didn't give much though before, so in that case...
     
  16. ADT
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    ADT New Member

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    I read a ton of literary fiction even though I'm a poet. The authors I'm generally interested in use language so well, though, that I study and enjoy them as though they were poets.

    Also, if I'm embarking on a predefined project or collection, I'll generally do some relevant non-fiction research. That's par for fiction projects, but I think its also helpful in poetry as well.
     
  17. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    Shakespeare had plenty of plays that weren't tragedies. Try Midsummer Night's Dream, A Comedy of Errors, Merchant of Venice, The Tempest, etc. All of those have happy endings.
     
  18. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    True but his literature teacher seems to love tragedies so those are the ones they covered. They went on the cover Homer and Edger Allen Poe. Inspiring class, I'm sure.
     
  19. AmyS
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    AmyS Member

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    I read fiction, but I write non-fiction. Go figure. :)
     

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