Sunday, March 5, 2023

Emulating Favourites

Are there books you love so much that you find their tone creeping up in your work? Where is the line between homage and plagiarism?


I've read widely since I was a kid and have had different favourite books along the way. I particularly loved Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird -- the characters, the plot, the message -- and reread it several times. Hemingway's sparse style also appealed to me, painting pictures with few words and dialogue. While I studied English lit at university, I continually read crime fiction, my chosen genre for writing short stories and books.

Which crime fiction books have I loved so much that I'd want to emulate the tone ... and do I?

There've been so many over the years. Maybe it comes down to the type of book I like best: strong, relatable characters, interesting, plausible plots, suspense, a bit of grit, well drawn settings. Voice is also key. Some authors who've got all this going on include Denise Mina, Adrian McKinty, Elizabeth George, Jane Harper, Ann Cleeves, Deon Meyer, Val McDermid ... I can go on and on. And I haven't even touched on my fellow Canadian authors (you can find a list of treasures to discover at Crime Writers of Canada website).

I'd like to believe that I've absorbed and learned from all these authors and come up with my own voice. If a tone creeps into my work, it's only an echo because much as I'd like to write like some of them, I ultimately cannot. Every time I face a blank page, I pull from my own imagination. Plagiarism would be to copy someone else's words or to take one of their passages and change the odd word, and this I would never do. Plot lines and settings are fair game, however. Nobody holds the copyright on these; it's how the author uses them that makes their stories and writing original.

1 comment:

Josh Stallings said...

Great influences. To Kill a Mockingbird, is one hell of a good crime book.