Friday, April 06, 2012
Writing: Fighting In Someone Else's Armor
Let me explain. Early in my writing journey, I attended a mentoring class at an excellent writer's conference. Like others in the class, I submitted the opening scene of my work-in-progress for comments by other class members and by the instructor, a well-known writer. After the class, he and I sat in the lounge and he proceeded to rewrite the scene. He improved it, but the end result was a scene in his "voice," not mine. What I then had to do was put those changes into action using my own words. Otherwise, I'd be trying to fight the battle for publication clad in his armor.
Writers can struggle for years to find their unique "voice." This means the way they string words together, the attitude of their characters, the balance they achieve between dialogue and description. No one can do it for us, and the harder we try to imitate the work of other writers, the more stilted and contrived will be our own writing. So we have to remember: We can't fight in someone else's armor.
Writers, has this been a hard lesson for you to learn? Readers, can you tell when a writer is trying to imitate another? Let me know.