More on My Writing Methods

No, I’m not ignoring Independence Day. But in light of what the Supreme Court did to us last week, it seems idle to talk about independence in America.

I’m moving right along with the writing of Bell Mountain #6, The Palace. I presume many of the readers of this blog are interested in writing, and the nuts-and-bolts of it: so I thought I’d open my toolbox today and show you something useful, albeit unusual.

As I work on my current fantasy novel, I’ve been using Agatha Christie as my muse. Is that baloney, or does it have a meaning? Well, yes, it does mean something. It means I’m plowing into her books as a way of helping along with my own work–sort of employing her as a Sherpa to guide me up the mountain.

Not that I try on purpose to imitate another writer. But as I unroll my own story of The Palace, I listen intently to Agatha Christie’s literary voice–the flow and tempo of her narrative, her tricks of dialogue (especially to reveal the speaker’s character), her decisions as to how much or how little description to provide at this or that point in the story, and so on.

Obviously I’m not trying to learn how to write a detective story. No: I’m listening. I know that my own writing will be influenced in subtle ways (and sometimes not so subtle) by whatever I happen to be reading at the time. Under no circumstances must I dip into Shakespeare while I’m writing a book! It’d be a disaster. But there is something in Agatha Christie’s tone that I want to capture in my own writing.

Later, when I get into writing my climax, I’ll probably switch over to Edgar Rice Burroughs.

No, I don’t believe in channeling or any other such heathen rubbish. But if you don’t think one author can speak to another through her published work, then you have not yet learned anything about writing.

7 comments on “More on My Writing Methods

  1. Well, well. Stealing my thunder! I tell all of my aspiring writer friends/students that the wayto become a good writer is to read good things, the top best is the Bible. For variety, simplicisty, and many other attributes, the Bible provides innumerable and excellent examples of good writing. Why not? It was written by the original Writer.

    1. Dorothy, I read my Bible every day, to steep myself in it. But I would not presume to use it as a guide to writing a work of fiction.
      Remember, everybody in the world thinks he can write a book. You’d be amazed how many of these people never read anything.

  2. In order to write a sequel to “Gone With the Wind,” Alexandra Ripley copied Margaret Mitchell’s writing verbatim to get a feel for her style. According to my wife that has read “Scarlettt,” Ms. Ripley missed the mark.

    How about some contemporary tips on writing for us wannabe students of Duigon.

    1. Read and write a lot!
      I tend to be influenced, stylistically, by my favorite authors while I’m reading them. For that reason, I don’t dare dip into Sir Thomas Malory’s “Morte D’Arthur” while I’ve got a book going. I don’t imitate on purpose.

      You can always check the Archives for “the art of writing.”

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