Every writer wants to be a success. Most of us look longingly at those authors who have become household names because of their runaway best-sellers. As soon as someone hits it big, dozens of other authors try to imitate their work—usually not as well and almost never as successfully.
But the temptation is so strong. If it worked for them, maybe it will work for me. If writing about teenage vampires worked for Stephenie Meyer, then I’ll write about them too. Or if Beverly Lewis can turn the Amish into best-sellers, then by gum, I’m going to make up what I think the Amish are like and write my heart out. If Martha Grimes writes mysteries about a policeman in London, then I’ll do it better! Never mind that I’ve never met anyone who works for the constabulary there. And if J. R. R. Tolkien can create a fantasy world, then so can I.
Now there is nothing wrong with being inspired by such writers. Reading great books is what makes us want to be writers in the first place. And if we love a certain genre, then of course that is what we will want to write. But my point is that we should not imitate, because we aren’t going to do it as well, and our readers will most likely be disappointed with our attempts.
So how can you write a unique book that is inspired by an author you love without simply imitating him or her? The answer is in thinking through why you like a certain author.
For example, why do you love the Twilight books? Is it really because they are about vampires? Or is there something else in the story that draws you? Find that element and concentrate on that instead of trying to stick with the vampire theme.
Why do you want to write about the Amish? Is it because you know the Amish community well and want to help others to understand their world? Or do you just like the rural setting and old-fashioned ways? If the latter, create your own unique take on such a story without feeling it has to be Amish.
Do you love Martha Grimes mysteries? Unless you have a good understanding of how the policemen of the UK operate, put your policeman in the setting in which you live. Incorporate the same things that you love about Grimes’s books, but make them uniquely your own.
And if you want to create a fantasy world such as Tolkien created, do not make it about a ring, elves, dwarves, and hobbits. You will need to come up with your own unique characters, plot line, and world.
So although imitation is the highest form of flattery, it is not how you will become a great author. You will write great books when you find your unique voice and create a story that not only you will love but many others as well.
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Genre – Fairy tale, Fantasy
Rating – G