Monday, March 31, 2014

Comparing Your Work with Others

When you compare your writing to another author, it can be positive or negative. 
A few authors slam a fellow author’s book with one and two star reviews. Some reviews are honest assessments while others are not.
Base your evaluation on readability, storyline, plot durability, realistic dialogue, grammar and more. If you cannot do do this, then do not write a review. Nothing is wrong with that because 
authors need time to write their own stories, engage in social media and do whatever else to promote their work. Doing this leaves little time to read others’ materials and write reviews and that is okay. 
I write reviews for two reasons: (1)it keeps my followers informed on what else I am doing besides my work in progress and (2)it assists me with my own writing. 
Reading (when I have time to do so) helps you gleam a lot in the way of word choices, character names, plot ideas and descriptions. 
Currently, I am reading Mary Connealy’s Calico Canyon. The villain is Parrish. I like the way Connealy describes him. “But his temper goaded him. He hungered to make her sorry for what she’d done. The image of her cowering under his fists kept him awake at night and rode him like a spur [my italics] all day.”
Playing off one another is fine as long as we do not take their words and ideas verbatim. There are only so many story lines out there, but adding our own bends and twists do make the difference. The Twilight series is an example of this. The story is romance but what is different is the werewolf twist. 
Write your way. Do not write like another author because if you do you will fail. After all, God gave you your own gifts not another person's. My way is to set a scene with the five senses. 
In addition, I include historical details, such as I did in Ruth Ann Nordin’s and my anthology, Bride by Arrangement, set in Lincoln, Neb., in 1876. The book includes two novellas. Ruth’s story is The Purchased Bride and mine is She Came by Train. Below is an excerpt from my novella highlighting an old hymn: 
“As the afternoon sun rays glimmered on the pearly keys, Opal settled herself on the piano stool. Opening one of the hymnals, she turned the page to ‘When the Roll is Called up Yonder.’ Stroking the keys, her fingers graced the notes. She sang as she played the tune. 
“‘When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound and time shall be no more, And the morning breaks, eternal, bright, ...’ Footsteps approached. ‘When the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there. ... When the roll is called up yonder., I’ll be there.’ Finished with the chorus, she turned to Mr. Crowley, who stood in front of her. ‘Yes?’
“‘Miss Preston, you have two visitors. One is named Ada Wilcox.’”
  My brother loved reading an author who added Native American details into his work. This helped set that author apart from others. If you are one who does not care for research (which takes time), then write what fits you. Learning about time periods and how people lived is fascinating to me. By the way, visiting historical homes is one of the best ways to gather information. 
I read a variety of genres, which includes romance, mystery, suspense and non-fiction. I read Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Lincoln. It gave you a wonderful feel for that era which helped me with my own writing. Even heartwarming, spiritual true stories, such as Heaven is for Real, enables me to capture emotions and incorporate these into my own work. 
In conclusion, it can be good to compare yourself to others if you do this with the right intent but never deviate from your true self. Write your own story. Garner methods and styles from others, but fashion your own story and your own descriptions. God created you so devise your writing as you want. The Lord’s blessings to you.

1 comment:

  1. I agree, Janet. When I'm wrestling with a problem in my own writing, I frequently look at someone else's work to see how he or she handled that problem. When I'm reading casually, I sometimes make note of how the author handled something I expect to come up against later. My own solutions may have nothing to do with what I've read, but the reading and reviewing has allowed a lot of ideas to ferment.