Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Copy-Catting

We admire the successful. What writer can't name off a string of favorite authors? I've been known to read certain authors while I'm in the midst of my own novels, in hopes the talent soaks in by osmosis, and my words piece together in my subconscious with better flow on the paper.

Ever had a friend say you reminded them of someone? Your writing sounded like King or Sparks? You dressed like Streisand or walked like Hepburn? Your cooking tastes gourmet and your jokes emulate Leno or Anderson? Standards are to be copied. That's why they are standards. They are what we hope to achieve.

But imagine the reverse . . . an author wanting to write like you. You wave your hand before your face, blushing, honored that you've become someone's standard.

We don't mind being copied as long as people remember who was original. Over time, originals often are  forgotten in the noise that is the subsequent success of others. I believe what's more important is that we learn more about how people acquired that success instead of copying their craft.

Don't write another Harry Potter-like series, but study what made JK Rowling revered in her craft.

You want to be as good as the best, but doing your own thing.

3 comments:

Carol J. Alexander said...

I still have Hitch Up Your Wagon, a post of yours from a long time ago, on my office wall. Same idea, said differently.
BTW...people tell me I look like Audrey Hepburn :)

Ellie said...

I think it was Stephen King who said to avoid books that have "if you like so and so you'll love this author" or "For fans of...". Too much the same.

BECKY said...

Great advice! And I'd love to read the old Hitch Up Your Wagon piece!