Saturday, February 06, 2010

Wisdom of Sherwood Anderson 4

“Anderson’s own assessment of his early writings was that they were too much the product of his reading, that he had ‘come to novel writing through novel reading’” (67-68).

To be a good writer, you have to read. But reading can also be dangerous to the writer. You don’t want to imitate your favorite writers too much. You are the only you there is. You have a distinct voice that God gave you and that only you can provide to the world. You are short-changing yourself if you’re trying to be the next Stephanie Meyers, or John Grisham, or Stephen King, or J.K. Rowling. You have to be yourself. You have to use the talent and skills that God gave you and that you have worked to develop. The world needs your voice, your style, your view of life. Don’t lessen yourself by becoming a cheap imitation.

As a writer, when you read you are learning how to write. How does the writer move from scene to scene? When does the author use dialogue and when does he/she summarize? How does the author show and not tell? How is the character developed? How is the scene set? These are just examples. You’re not looking to copy them point by point, but you’re learning how to write, how to make your own style better. You need to know your own weaknesses and read authors who are strong in those aspects. Description is a weak part of my writing. And I hate reading long descriptions, but I have to if I’m to learn how to write those descriptions. If I don’t want to write descriptions, then I just need to stick with drama. I also read popular writers who aren’t that good at description, but I see how they work it out as well.

Read to learn - not to imitate.
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