Creative process in writing fiction: Be original, don’t imitate

By Dennis Mellersh

One of the traps that new fiction writers can fall into is using language or style from previous periods instead of utilizing contemporary references. This tendency can stem from an effort to write in what the writer thinks is a “literary manner.”

For the new writer learning how to write this can be avoided by being aware of the importance of speaking in your own voice, of being original.

Much writing from earlier periods, particularly poetry, contains references to classical mythology and symbols, for example, not well understood today.  The readers of earlier periods understood those references. Or there may be allusions to the Bible, which was known intimately by most people years ago, but which is not known nearly so well known, by most people.

Many issues that concerned an informed reading audience 100 or 150 years ago are generally not the same issues that are of interest to readers today.

I’m not talking about issues and themes involving human emotions and their associated behaviors, which have remained a constant throughout recorded history. Human behavior, in fact, isthe foundation of all good fiction writing.

Using the outdated references of the writers of previous time periods will make your work appear dated and derivative.

Most of us imitate when we are in the early stages of becoming a writer. But as we progress in our writing, we need to use symbols, references, and images that are readily recognized by today’s reading audience.

In his book Creative Authenticity, the painter Ian Roberts makes an excellent point that can be applied to the art or craft of writing well: “We cannot appropriate the power of past images by using them today. We can’t assume that because they had a primal, aboriginal, and elemental power when they were created, that they will if we use them today, convey that power to a viewer now.”

You will gradually the confidence to write in your own voice and not someone else’s.

Imitative writing robs you of your uniqueness

About Dennis Mellersh

Dennis Mellersh is an independent writer, journalist, editor, and editorial consultant.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.