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The great pretender, or why it is so damn important to read your own genre!

I am pretty comfortable with my writing voice. I would go so far as to say that I rather like my writing voice, which is a good job as I spend so much time using it. But this week I couldn’t find it. Instead I found myself rather bizarrely writing in a cross over style between myself and…William Boyd.

Have you ever encountered someone with a strong accent and found yourself accidentally imitating that accent? Imagine that, but whilst writing. It is unsettling, bizarre and, to be honest, a bit annoying.

I am reading Sweet Caress by Mr Boyd this week and it is exceptionally good. The only problem is I have found myself writing as though I am Amory Clay, the protagonist. This is not so good, especially as I am writing a psychological thriller and not literary fiction. That teaches me for reading outside my genre!

There is very little point trying to write as someone else; you have to find your own damn voice and stick with it. Imitating other people’s writing will never flow quite as naturally, nor will it ever be as good as the original, regardless of whether you’re imitating them by accident or not.

So, how did I manage to regain my voice, you may ask? Firstly, by only reading Sweet Caress for half an hour a day before I go to bed and never, ever before I sit down to write. Secondly by re-reading the last few chapters of my novel, thereby reminding myself of my own voice and lastly by staying on-genre with my reading list!

It has been a very valuable lesson.

sweet caress


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