Posted by : Sherri Cornelius Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Rainy this morning. Nice. No hail. That's a good thing. No internet, either, until just now.

Thank you, dear friends, for all your supportive comments. I'm so happy to have you with me on my journey, as I am right next to you on yours.

So I bought some books over the weekend. First let me say that the bookstore situation in OKC is woeful. The conference was held in Midwest City, which is really an extension of OKC, a thriving, growing community with new strip malls going up everywhere. Within a mile of my mom's house are the high school, a junior college and the Air Force base, as well as a new Target, Kohl's, Home Depot and Lowe' get the picture. A lot going on in that area. Yet to find a large bookstore one must drive 20 minutes on the interstate system to the other side of OKC. It's crazy and annoying.

My brother, Tony, and I picked our books based on some author names floating on the wind at the con. Steven Erikson was recommended by Minz as good dark fiction, so Tony picked up a couple of those. I already mentioned that I chose a Laurell K. Hamilton and Lois McMaster Bujold (what a frickin' tongue twister that is!). I cracked open the LMB, The Sharing Knife, first.

And what to my wondering eyes should appear but one of my main character names in Ea's Gift. Dag is the name of both LMB's male lead and a supporting, but important, character in my book. Not that I have a problem changing it if need be, but it crossed my mind that certain people might wonder if I copied.

I'm stumbling over the name, picturing the Dag from my book. Not only am I seeing my character, but all his knowledge and experience is automatically applied to this character. Quite weird. It won't make me put the book down, but I might have to rename him in my mind, maybe read it as just plain "D" or something.

Besides that, I'm really enjoying the flow of the story and the characters, and I noticed something by the end of Chapter 2. Over and over at the con, (and before that on the internet) I heard the advice to compare yourself to an establish author's style. To find an author whose voice is most like your own, and then use the comparison as a shorthand to describe your style. Great advice, but I've never been able to equate my voice with another writer's. I believe I've finally found a similar voice.

I make no comparison of quality for that is not mine to judge, but it felt strangely familiar. Not the story or the characters, but the development, the language, the feel. It seems a bit silly to compare myself to such a well-established author, and even sillier that I have never read such a well-established author, but there it is.

What do you think of this advice, and how has it changed the way you see your writing? Do you worry it will make you derivative?

{ 12 comments... read them below or Comment }

  1. My writing style most closely resembles Christopher Moore. That was the realization which struck me while workshopping my last novel. I'm a Christopher Moore wannabe.

    After embracing that reality, I didn't do much with it. It isn't something I'd say in a query letter, not even the query letter I sent to CM's agent.

    I value originality above all else, so the CM realization isn't a "brag" so much as it is a "cringe." But I'll use it as a quick descriptor in conversation to explain my style. That may have more to do with the fact I hate to talk to people about my writing, and I'll use any shorthand I can to politely answer the question and change the subject.

  2. I totally agree on the cringe factor. I took a certain pride in never having found a voice like mine, and simultaneously felt stupid for not having read more.

  3. There is the most wonderful bookstore in 50 Penn Place (opp. Penn Sq) just as you enter and it has a great organic cafe too. The name escapes me now, but it is all wood and ladders, sofa's and even a fireplace.

  4. I haven't found a voice like mine; but then I haven't really looked either. For that matter, I'm not even sure what my voice really is. I just write what sounds right.

    I've even been told (by someone who probably hated me and was too kind to say so) that I had NO voice.


  5. Sarah, when I was in college the bookstore in 50 Penn was the Full Circle. But it was upstairs back then.

    Ian, the lack of a voice could be considered a voice.

  6. I guess that every writer will find him or herself in another writer's style. I can personally identify my writing a lot with Scott Lynch's books, but then again it's different again too, because everyone has their own ideas, concepts and ways to bring them unto paper (or should I say into the laptop?)

    Anyway, on books: Steven Erikson's "Gardens of the Moon" is still sitting on my bookshelf and I'm planning on reading it sometime soon. I just finished Laurell K. Hamilton's Cerulean Sins and can only say: yes they do get worse. I personally like a lot of her ideas, but after book 10 the smut-factor is just a little too overwhelming and getting outright ridiculous. Right now I picked up Kim Harrison and Jim Butcher's Dresden Files, the latter ones are definitely recommended :)

  7. As I said, I picked up my first Hamilton, but I haven't started it yet. Thanks for the recommendations, and thanks for stopping by, nymeria.

  8. Well I guess it helps to talk about our shortcomings, or at least what we perceive to be shortcomings . I am an avid reader but I do not believe i could write. So I guess i will sit on the sidelines and cheer you guys on.

  9. Full Circle that's it and now it's downstairs, huge and has a fab cafe with wireless access :-)

    We always escape the madness of Penn Sq for lunch in there, a 'quiet' lunch

  10. I'm not in a place, writing-skill-wise, to know if I sound like or am modeling myself on anyone. I think about it, but once I get into my story, I don't know how to compare my work to anyone. I don't know that I can recognize my voice--this is a problem.

  11. Well, Darc told me that my blog is lifeless, so if I *had* a writing style, I guess I'd be Jack Skellington from The Nightmare Before Christmas. (Don't ask me how many times I've seen that in the last month!) One line he sings, "And because I am dead, I can take off my head, to recite Shakespearean quotations!"

    Pretty much me in a nutshell! lol

  12. I think someone else would have to tell me what author I most resemble. There are so many good authors I haven't read! How would I know? I would hate for someone to ask me this question because how can I compare myself (a wannabe) to a published author? I could, however, tell them about some of the authors I love to read. I'm sure I'm influenced by them without even realizing it.


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