1. hippocampus
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    hippocampus Active Member

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    Writing influenced by what I'm currently reading?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by hippocampus, Jan 16, 2013.

    I love to read fiction. I'm almost always reading a book.

    When I decided to tackle writing a novel (my first) in one of my favorite genres, I re-read some of my favorite books to see what it was that grabbed me about them. Reading these books again inspired me when writing - I used them as references as to how certain things were handled such as dialogue, looks, action and back story.

    So I just started reading a new novel, and while the author seems to be quite prolific (they list at least 20 "other books by..."), I find that I don't like the way he handles dialogue and description of character behaviors. Now I don't want to read it because I feel like it will negatively influence my writing somehow.

    Is that ridiculous?
     
  2. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    In a word, yes. :)

    I doubt you can be influenced by something you really don't want to be influenced by. If you don't like how this writer handles dialogue, then it's unlikely that you'll handle dialogue the same way. If anything, reading this writer's work will drive you further away from writing like that. It may even help you write the way you want to by sharpening your perception of what you don't like, if that makes any sense ...
     
  3. hippocampus
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    hippocampus Active Member

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    That's a comforting thought! I worry a bit that as a new writer, I may incorporate a lot of what I've read into my style while I'm growing as a writer. But I do see your point about using this book to help me avoid what I know I don't like.
     
  4. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hate to be a wet blanket, but I don't think it's so ridiculous. It is very possible to be influenced by what you read, which includes the stylistic portions of what you're reading. However, being cognizant of it will help you avoid being too heavily influenced by a style you don't especially like. (If you do like the style, then, hey -- that's a bonus.) I think the way to avoid this, though, it to really mix up what you read. If you read one or two books by this author that you like, but you recognize that you don't like one particular aspect of the writing style, read at least one or several books by authors who don't use that same style.

    The greater variety of styles you read will mean a lesser chance of being too heavily influenced by one particular author. But on the other hand, if you find an author whose style you really do like, by all means, read everything that author wrote.
     
  5. kev675
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    kev675 Member

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    I think that its not too crazy but I think you need to re think your reading a little no offensive




    I am the Warlock
     
  6. ulster
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    ulster Member

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    It's not ridiculous, but you are your own person and can make up your own mind about what's good or bad, what you like and don't like, and what your writing style is going to be. That's part of any learning process, whether you're learning to pitch a baseball or learning to roast a chicken. Everyone has a different way of doing things and you need to blaze your own trail. I don't think reading a "bad" book is going to make any difference.

    ps - with all the great books on the planet, why would you spend time reading a book you don't like?
     
  7. hippocampus
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    hippocampus Active Member

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    I started reading it because I knew it had some action-packed scenes and I wanted to see how the author handled those.

    Plus, it goes into a bit of depth about some CIA stuff that's said to be fairly accurate.

    In any case, I'm not saying it is a bad book so much as the dialogue just didn't flow for me when reading it. I'm sure I wouldn't have given it a second thought in the days before I wanted to try my hand at writing (so to speak!).
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    what would be ridiculous is if you allowed it to...
     
  9. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    My process is exactly the same, I look at my favourite books in the same genres to figure out how to deal with different aspects that I'm having issues with.

    As far as this book you mentioned, why are you reading it if you don't like the writing? I am very picky with my literature and anything that annoys me I stop reading. I only read stuff that I can get into and I always like the writing.

    ps. Just read your comment about reasons why you are reading it. I would say it will most definitely not influence you in a bad way. Just consider it research. I read a book written by a FBI profiler because I needed that for my book and it was so badly written in places but overall the useful info in it outweighed my issues with writing. If anything it helped me not to write like that.
    It's the same as critiquing other people's work. Sometimes what they write will be dreadful. But it is not infectious. The only way bad writing can influence you is if you think it's actually brilliant writing and you make an effort to write like that. But if you know it's bad, it won't affect you, I promise ;)
     
  10. goddessofwords
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    goddessofwords Member

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    Sort of, I understand where your coming from - lots of my inspiration came from the books I read or the TV Shows I just LOVE. However, I have my own writing style, my own techniques and my own way of writing out scenes. I'm sure you do too!
     
  11. hippocampus
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    hippocampus Active Member

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    LOL! That's encouraging. :D
     
  12. hippocampus
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    hippocampus Active Member

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    I too get a lot of inspiration from TV.

    I'm so new at writing for enjoyment that I don't think I even recognize my own style yet.
     
  13. goddessofwords
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    goddessofwords Member

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    Do specific shows inspire you? I know one show inspired me to wright the WIP I'm currently writing. It's a Canadian show called Lost Girl.

    I'm new too! I find I like writing for myself than writing essays in class. I'm sure everyone does, ha ha. :)
     
  14. sylvertech
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    sylvertech Active Member

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    Yes it does influence your writing, but almost never negatively.

    The things you absorb are only ones you approve of, unless you are completely inexperienced in dialogue,
    and so you'll suck up the first thing you see.

    I was reading some poetry on Sunday and so when I wrote poetry the second day it was very much similar to the poet's style,
    and yesterday I read a different author completely different, and my poetry benefited from him as well.

    If you acknowledge that you dislike this author's dialogue style,
    then you will most definitely not be writing like him until you force yourself to.
     
  15. goddessofwords
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    goddessofwords Member

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    I agree; writers tend to be influenced by things that inspire them - if you don't like it, it's doubtful you'll follow the authors footsteps.
     
  16. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    When I read something in the same genre in which I currently have a project, I make sure that I am looking at it in a purely analytical way. So, I almost never read something for the first time in my project genre, and not at all if it is too close to the story I'm writing. One can pick up more than elements of style that way, and quite unconsciously.
     

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