by Tim Kane
Finding your writing voice is akin to finding yourself in your teens and twenties. It can be a long and daunting progress. Until then, how can develop the basic writing skills needed to compose stories and novels? Mimicry.
I recall my first writing class, with now established author Susan Vreeland. She encouraged us to write like the writers we read. The goal was to capture the writer’s voice. That style of writing that transforms a typical plot and character into a compelling read.
My fav was Hemingway. I aped his style constantly. Short punchy sentences. Implied back story. To this day, Hills Like White Elephants remains one of my most cherished short stories.
But the world doesn’t need more Hemingways. Any writer worth his (or her) salt is going to capitalize the voice he (she) has created and churn out plenty of books. The market gets flooded. And that particular style is off limits.
Besides, style and voice are personal. They’re little bits and pieces. Amalgams of all the writers you’ve ever read. I know that my writing is a bit Stephen King, a little Hemingway, and some J. K. Rowling.
When starting, you won’t know what your ultimate style will be. So steal. Yes, I said it. Borrow phrases and metaphors from the pros. Chances are one of two things will happen. Either the work is still too novice and won’t see publication. Or, more likely, in the process of revising and editing you’ll change the phrase and make it your own. I often find I ditch the copied text completely (like outdated training wheels). It was only a crutch to push me through the writing process.
So steal and copy. Mimic and ape. Search for your own style.