What am I going to write about today? I have no idea.
Or rather, I had no idea until about three minutes ago, at which point I checked facebook to discover one of my friends had posted a news article stating that the UK’s television network BBC4 would be airing an adaptation of Douglas Adam’s science fiction comedy novel Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency.
So why does this warrant a mention in a blog about writing? Because it reminded me of reading the original novel, and Adam’s magnum opus The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.
The question I would like to pose to you this week is this: As a writer have you ever found yourself writing in another author’s voice? Was it intentional, or purely by accident?
Years ago while in a college creative writing course I was assigned to write a comedic short story as part of my final.
During that same semester, a friend of mine loaned me his copies of the original Hitchhiker’s trilogy (I have never read the books that followed). As an avid fan of Doctor Who (at that time I was really into the Tom Baker years), I really enjoyed the Douglas Adam episodes. (If you like the Matt Smith run, go check these out). So I really got into his novels.
Hitchhiker was slowly seeping into my unconsciousness as I read the novels that semester. So that when given an assignment to write this short story I found myself writing with Mr. Adam’s voice. Even my teacher noticed it.
Got a pretty good grade on it too.
That wasn’t the only time I ended up writing in another author’s voice. After I read a Sherlock Holmes story, I end up writing certain scenes with Arthur Conan Doyle’s voice. And because I read tons of Ray Bradbury, I can come up sounding like him as well.
That works for some things, and Adam’s voice works for others, but you know what voice really works best for my stories?
My own voice.
Sometimes I think it would be a whole lot better if I could write that that author, or that scriptwriter, but in truth it really wouldn’t be. More likely it’s going to come across as a poor imitation.
I may not be the greatest writer in the world, but I’d far rather not try to imitate the greatest writers in the world. Learn from them, absolutely, but not copy them.
I wouldn’t be surprised if my writing voice has picked up mannerisms from Adams, Doyle, Bradbury, and others, but I sound like myself. Whether I’m writing a short story, novel, script, or comic book, or even my little old blogs here, it’s going to be in my own voice?
Learn the from the voices of the author’s you greatly respect, then go an find your own voice.
Okay, that was nice and short. Actually had a point to it.
Thanks for reading.
Kevin Paul Shaw Broden
Four Names of Creative Professinalism.