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Reading while writing?

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Effingee



Joined: 08 Sep 2007
Posts: 6
Location: MPLS/St.Paul
Reading while writing?  Reply with quote  

So I've decided to write a book, and I think I've got a pretty solid idea. I've got a couple good main characters, but I'm worried that one of them - a 400 year old wisecracking bird - might end up being Biff. Nothing against Biff of course. He's great.

I've heard musicians say that they don't listen to other people's music when they write lyrics to try and keep things original. Should authors do this? Do you guys continue to read books similar to the kind you write while you write them? How do you keep them from oozing into your stories and characters?

Post Tue Sep 25, 2007 8:33 pm   View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
knikkki



Joined: 13 Jun 2005
Posts: 3145
Location: Davis, CA
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I always read while I'm writing. I find it helps keep me in the space. I still read all different kinds of books, though.

I find that very often times I'll be sitting with the book open and scanning the words of the text, but in actuality am thinking about my own book. Next thing you know, I have a new idea. (Of course, I have to go back and read that part of my book, but it's all part of the process for me.)
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Post Wed Sep 26, 2007 7:16 am   View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
FattyFattyPorkFace



Joined: 10 Aug 2004
Posts: 6381
Location: Michigan
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I can't imagine writing lyrics and music without listening to other people's stuff. I can't imagine writing my novel without reading something or listening to some music.

I don't know where you heard this stuff from, but I have found that it doesn't really matter what other writers do, you end up doing what is right for you. Find your own methods, it's easier than you think. Smile
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Post Wed Sep 26, 2007 7:30 am   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
chris
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Joined: 02 Mar 2004
Posts: 3833
Location: People Republic of Northern California
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If what I'm reading doesn't help what I'm writing by "osmosis" , then I may not read it. It's one of the reasons I won't read manuscripts (besides there's so fucking many people who want to send them to me) -- I don't want to pick up the tone and mistakes of amateurs. But hell, I'll read Steinbeck any time I'm writing, and if I accidentally start sounding like him, well, there are worse things.


My advice, it's okay to read stuff while you're writing, just dont' read bad stuff, and don't read stuff that may alter your style so that it doesn't fit the material you're working on. (I can't read Elmore Leonard when I'm writing because he has such a distinct set of idiosyncracies that I find myself picking up. This is less of a problem than early on, but I can identify the passages in my first book that I wrote while reading a Leonard book.)

Post Wed Sep 26, 2007 12:47 pm   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Bratta



Joined: 12 Sep 2007
Posts: 7
Location: Oklahoma
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Hey Chris, can I send you my manu*SMACK SMACK SMACK*

Reading is such a part of my life, that would be like not breathing while writing. There's nothing really original out in the world, so don't worry about being influenced by what you are reading. Embrace it. Just watch yourself if you are starting to blatantly plagiarize stuff.

If you suddenly have a scene in your book where a giant sea creature named Steve humps a gas truck, resulting in the destruction of a part of a cozy little town, then you might want to step back and think things through. But if you have a character that is a wise-ass like Biff, I wouldn't worry about it. Biff is an interesting character and more people like him in literature would be welcome, in my opinion.

Oh, and hello, world! This is my first post here! Woohoo!
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Post Wed Sep 26, 2007 2:17 pm   View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website AIM Address
Taco Bob



Joined: 12 Apr 2004
Posts: 1201
Location: Palm Falls, Florida
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I actively seek out books and even movies that go along with what I'm working on at the time. I even have a Books To Read pile going for upcoming projects.
Here's what I'm working through now:

You All Spoken Here
Coyote Blue
Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday
Lonesome Dove (book and video)
Duncan Delany and the Cadillac of Doom

The big problem for me reading while working on something is reading the piece itself too much. Sometimes I'll like a part and read it just for fun, but if I do that too much I tend to skim over when it comes time to rewrite.
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Post Sun Oct 07, 2007 2:44 pm   View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
mllefifi



Joined: 28 Jan 2006
Posts: 8964
Location: Deleoware
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TB, I'm sure you'll like the two Steinbeck novels. I would never have latched on to them if not for the AG. (Let me know whether you like the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical based on Sweet Thursday, though. It's called Pipe Dream.) Smile
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Post Sun Oct 07, 2007 3:35 pm   View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website AIM Address
Boota



Joined: 09 Apr 2004
Posts: 830
Location: Kokomo, Indiana
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At any given time I have three books going in different areas of my house. I try to read distinctly different books, so as to keep from getting confused in reading all of them at the same time. I don't really think I absorb much of what I read into my writing, though. At least not at the time. I'm sure that elements creep in over time. It would be impossible to avoid. I read a lot of good writers, but I have no aspirations beyond over-rated hack, so if something does slip in I'm sure it can only help me, and maybe give any reviewers reason to accuse me of stylistic plagiarism.
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Post Tue Oct 09, 2007 1:06 pm   View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
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