A lot of today’s writers have forgotten some very basic words of wisdom when it comes to being a writer: be the best writer that you can be. Unfortunately, a lot of writers do not fully understand this concept. Some are so busy chasing around someone else’s fabulous ideas or trying to figure out what ‘the next big thing’ is going to be in literature that they have forgotten that the best thing they can do as a writer is to forget what everyone else is doing, thinking, saying, and writing and just write like you. A wise (and experienced) writer knows that the best way to get known is to not fit in with other literary greats, but to stand out from them.
I had pointed out that as a writer, you do not really want to be known as the next “insert famous-writer’s-name here.” Do you really want to be hailed as the next “Stephanie Meyer?” If you answered yes to this question, then you need to take a step back and have a really long, hard look at your writing style and efforts. If you are being compared to an already well-known writer, then no one is going to pay attention to your name. All they are going to see if the famous author’s name. And if, by some miracle, they run out and purchase your work because they happen to be a fan of Stephanie Meyer’s, imagine their disappointment when they read your words and discover that you do not write exactly like Stephanie Meyer. After all, there is only one Stephanie Meyer. No one will ever write exactly like her but, well, her. Anyone else is going to be just a very poor imitation of her writing style. So readers who took a chance on your words because critics were happily comparing your writing style to hers will be very quick (and very vocal) to point out that you are merely a poor imitation of Stephanie Meyer. Do you honestly think that readers will want a poor replacement for their favorite author when they can just sit down and read the words directly from the horse’s mouth?
Where does that leave writers? Think of your favorite authors and their writing styles. The best thing you can do as a writer is forget how they write. You are not trying to write their next great novel for them. You must write the way that you feel comfortable with. If that means run-on sentences and fragments from time to time, then embrace that style and own it. If you prefer writing in absolutely perfect English that would make any English professor beam with pride, then do so with gusto. Whatever your style of writing, you have to claim it as your own and run with it. Stop trying to sound like other writers who you look up to. Sounding like Anne Rice or Laurell K. Hamilton or Charlene Harris is not going to get you as far in the publishing world as you may think. While it may seem like a good thing in the beginning, as a writer, you must have the ability to see past the edge of your nose and into the future. What happens when 100 unhappy readers have told two dozen people apiece that you suck and sound nothing like Stephanie Meyer? How long do you think it will take critics to turn against you and start calling you what your readers already know: that you really are a poor imitation of an already famous author?
Great storytelling doesn’t mean dead-on perfect English. There can be beauty in the flaws of your writing. But only if you take your flaws and use them to your advantage. Otherwise, you are just going to be known for imitating someone else’s words.