This post is celebrating a new and eminently deserved day of recognition: International Authors’ Day! And if you’re the fifth person to send me an email from my website, you’ll win an e-book copy of my novella, The Blue Bicycle.
We all have our favorite writers. Personally, my greatest influences have been some of the earlier writers of the Twentieth Century: Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, and Sylvia Plath. And so when I began to write I did so in the style of Hemingway and his muscular prose. I tried to conjure up unforgettable characters such as Steinbeck’s. And I sought to evoke Plath’s moods. We all begin by mimicking our greatest writers, but don’t let imitation go too far. Agents and authors are constantly looking for a new twist to old stories. A groundbreaking writing style. A voice so vivid that only you can own it.
Some of this simply comes from writing, writing, writing. Being tutored by the most capable of writing instructors. Workshopping your writing time after time until it shines. But in the end, you can’t rely on imitation or instruction in order to keep your writing unique. If you’re to gain a wide readership, readers must be entertained and provoked by your writing, and they will ultimately want to see the true “you” in your stories and books.
So how do you keep your writing uniquely you? You have a life experience that no one else has. You’ve fought in a war and gained new insight into its damage, its challenges. You’ve survived a difficult childhood, or poverty, or lost love, or even the burdens of riches. What’s unique in any of these things is you, how you dealt with them. Using your unique perspective on such life experience, reach deep for something universal, something common to all people. This is what readers will want from you: to see how your characters have overcome obstacles. But whether your readers know it or not, they’ll want you to strike a chord in their own lives; they’ll want to believe the TRUTH of what you’re writing, and perhaps apply it to their own lives.
So look outward. Take in all the drama happening around you. You’ll discover that each person you meet will seem a universe of his or her own. Feel the wind blow, the seasons change, experience the ups and downs of life as they happen to you and to those around you, whether they involve you or not.
Then look inward. Digest all this outward experience, the world of the senses you live within. Stories will come, and they’ll be uniquely yours. Learn how to tell them; give the reader what he or she wants: an experience of life in the parallel universes you’ve created, ones they can be inspired by, can learn from. Stories they’ll know came from you. Only you.
Kudos to Debdatta for organizing this blog hop and for encouraging the celebration of writers, their value to society and to each of us as readers. Please link back to thank Debdatta for doing this.