Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The book you're reading is influencing your writing: how to make it work for you!

It’s work day for me today: I’m banging through that long list of jobs I’ve been juggling and not quite dropping.   So if you’ve been waiting to hear back from me on something, chances are an email is on its way!

Back to the topic of today’s post and it’s something of a follow up from the previous post which was all about reading and why that is important when you’re trying to write.   How you start to write like the writer you're reading.  And how use this.   
So: you pick up a book.  You like the style.  The next morning you sit down to write, and find that the author has got into your brain.  They're taking over your personality.  You’re starting to write like them!  There's a puppet master in your brain! 

Well: there are two choices: stop reading or stop writing, and neither of them are very attractive. 
How to make it work for you? 
It’s pretty simple really: you pick a book that’s similar to the one what you want to write.  Need a bit of romance into your spy thriller: pick up Love in the Time of Cholera.  Want to put some dramatis into your novel, read Homer.  Looking for a gritty post apocalypse feel: read Game of Thrones.  Need authentic details in your military Sci-Fi novel: read one of the Special Forces novels set in Iraq.   The details you want, or the ‘feel’ of the writing will seep into your own.  I promise! 

I’ve used this process a number of times: each in a different way. 
With Shieldwall, I set out to do something I hadn’t done before – write a real page-turner.  I felt pretty confident about writing pretty sentences and getting the characters right, but there’s a knack to page-turners, and so I set a pile of genre fiction by my bedside, and soaked that deep.

When I was writing The Drink and Dream Teahouse, a novel set in modern China, I wanted to absorb some of the sensibilities of that part of the world, and tore through a pile of Chinese fiction and poetry before I went to sleep at night – and let it simmer away in my subconscious all night - so that a flavour of it would come through next morning when I started to write.

 Trust me: it'll work.  ;-)



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