Saturday, January 27, 2018
As writers, we all have our own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to style. We can improve on the areas where we falter, of course. I've gained many techniques from reading other writers I admire, such as how they handle transitions but over all, we are what we are and it's best to just go with it.
For instance, I could never develop a plot no matter how I studied how other writers did it. My books have no plots. They just ramble. That's the way it is.
When I was young and poor, my friend worked at Hooks Drugstore. When Harlequin paperbacks exceeded their shelf life, the store threw them away or gave them to employees. My friend read them, then brought them to me. Oh, God, I read so many Harlequin romances. They were so formulaic, it was like reading the same story over and over except in one, the hero was a pirate and in one he was a rancher.
When I got a little older, I thought I should write for Harlequin. It would be easy. They sent you guidelines that practically laid out what had to happen in every chapter. Just follow the formula. Except I couldn't do it. My romances always took a turn for the twisted. Not Harlequin material.
You have to be organized to write a nice, concise plot but I'm not organized. I never know what if going to happen next. I just start out and let it happen. I think I have a fair talent for characterization but that's not on me, it's on the characters themselves. They come to me full-blown.
For example, one of the protagonists in one of me books was born and raised in Romania before coming to New York as a teenager.
"Are you kidding?" I asked him. "Why Romania? I know nothing about Romania and could care less."
"Nope," he insisted, "it has to be Romania."
So I had to do a ton of research to to be able to write realistically about Romania. It turned out to be quite interesting but I'd never have chosen that country if it had been up to me.
So, my advice is to read a lot and yes, pay attention to how authors write about people, places and things but don't model yourself on anyone else. Whatever your voice is, that's the important one to focus on.