Written by JJ Barnes
Being inspired by other writers can be a very positive thing. We can learn from their work and incorporate certain techniques that make their work great into our own writing. But it’s important to maintain your own personal style as well.
It’s very important that however inspired you are by other writers, you don’t rip them off. It’s very important that you do not directly copy, either by accident or intentionally, the work of other writers.
If you are worried that you might be accidentally copying the work of another author, the first job you need to do is get a good proofreader. An experienced proofreader is likely to pick up on any accidental plagiarizing. However, if the author you’re possible ripping off is somebody quite niche, it’s worth finding someone within that specific fandom who is an expert on their particularly work, who can read your book with that lens on it.
I have worked for years with proofreader Steph Warren. She takes on new people regularly so she comes with my recommendation.
Vary Your Reading To Be Inspired By Other Writers
If you’re focusing on one writer at a time, or heavily focusing on a single writer who influences you, then an important thing to do would be to branch out. Widen your reading and possibly read more than one book at a time on a rotation.
If you’re automatically reflecting one writer’s style because you’re so intrenched in their work, then forcing variety into your reading will help you free yourself from it. You’re less likely to subconsciously copy their work.
Write The Bones Of Your Story
Another option is to focus less heavily on prose. When you start writing, for your first draft, write the absolute bare bones of your story. A lot of the style goes into the poeticism and style of the prose, so if you break it down to essentially a script with just what the characters say and where they go, you’ll have a complete and unique story without copying anybody’s style.
When you’ve got a completed first draft, you go in and edit, developing the prose around what already exists. That way, you cannot literally copy what somebody else has written because your story is entirely unique to you. Nobody else has written these characters before, so therefore nobody else has written prose about these characters before.
I’m in the process of adapting a film I wrote, What Ivy Wants, into a book. I’ve got the words and the plot, and I’m going in and developing the character’s interiority. Descriptions of the environment and actions and creating the visuals needed.
It’s actually a really satisfying process. Having a complete story that’s quite plain to breathe life into in this style is so different to anything I’ve done before.
More From JJ Barnes:
I am an author, filmmaker, artist and youtuber, and I am the creator and editor of The Table Read.
You can find links to all my work and social media on my website: www.jjbarnes.co.uk
Buy my books: www.sirenstories.co.uk/books
Follow me on Twitter: @JudieannRose