Friday, May 6, 2011

Writer envy... or not

here's the link to the original page

Ever get this feeling of frustration while reading a book? Or beta-reading for someone else?

I get this, even when reading books I love by writers I wish I was.

I've also been there during life-drawing classes like this, especially after I switched over from a *real* post-secondary institution into one for animation/game design & programming/etc.

Oh. My. Goodness. I don't even want to rehash memories of the Japanese-obsessed-fandom that was rampant in that place. Note to single-guys: wearing a 'Decepticons' t-shirt does not make you a bad-ass and gushing about the complexity of dating-sim games is not the best way to pick up chicks in a place where only 2% are sporting a double-x chromosome.

...but I'm getting off topic.

It's great when you love a particular writer. It's not so great when you try to be that particular writer. I've always thought it was a little weird when I ask someone what they write, and they list off ten published authors. Sure, maybe you like those authors, but you don't write like them. Just because I like Haruki Murakami, doesn't mean I'm going to write in his style... in fact, I'm going to do my darndest not to.

I've seen this a lot, mostly when beta-reading. I've heard (or read comments from) many writers who admit to *slipping into* whatever style of writing they are currently reading. My biggest complaint on this (since I don't like spreading negativity) is that I get frustrated.

Point 1 of frustration: I want to read that writer's voice, not a vapid, wavering semblance that tries to emulate ten different author voices all at once.

Point 2 of frustration: It is difficult enough to slug through an in-progress story with disappearing or 2d characters, plot holes (or chasms), bad dialogue, huge info-dumps or purple-prose... the usual *first-draft* problems without also being jarred out of one voice and into another. This is especially a problem in 1st person stories.

Point 3 of frustration: This is even worse when the writer mixes genres... the snarky female voice in a heavily-descriptive setting accompanied by technical (or humorous) tangents.

If you have this problem as a writer, please, for the love of your beta-readers, leave your story for a month, then re-read it with fresh eyes before sending it off to your writing group! Not only will you get better feedback, you'll also get a beta-reader willing to read more of your work in the future.

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