They say (you know, the mysterious “they” everyone’s always referring to) that reading is possibly the best practice for writing – that it’s something every good writer does without fail. It’s no wonder, then, certain styles and words and characters should stick with us readers. We all have our favorites, those types of stories that speak to us, those dog-eared books we keep around and pick up when we just want to visit a familiar friend for the umpteenth time. And it’s probably no wonder these influences spill over into our own attempts at putting words to the page. I’m not talking of typing verbatim what other authors have written (pretty sure that’s plagiarism; besides, where’s the fun in that?). I am talking of finding your own voice as a writer, and “trying on” various ways to use words to convey a certain moment.
Here are two of my own “nods” – things I wrote specifically into my book with a certain genre or character in mind. A tip of the hat, so to speak, to one particular writer (and his character) I’m consistently awed by, and another to the genre I devoured as a teen.
First up, there’s this sentence, found approximately halfway through the book:
A part of me tried to refuse what he said, but there was no mistaking the appreciative slant of his gaze and the lazy, approving curve of his lips.
Okay, this one may seem like an odd choice, but I like to think of it as a slight nod to all those bodice rippers I read in my youth. Cheesy confession time: I actually wrote this line with that in mind, thinking I could just hit the backspace button and make it disappear after I saw how silly it was in the story. I thought of a “hero” in one of those trashy romances from years gone by (and hero can be stretching it; do you remember those things? It was often a love-hate relationship between the main couple, and the man the woman often pined after was a not-so-great option, in my opinion), and wrote this as Nick’s reaction to seeing Katie all dolled up for a date. Silly or not, it stuck.
“No, there are no coincidences, Katie.”
This is Nick’s line, said somewhere in the last third of the book. It’s a bit of homage to one of my favorite writers, Michael Connelly. He’s been writing novels mainly centered around one character, Harry Bosch, for many years, and this is one of Harry’s philosophies – this notion that everything happens for a reason, that one action or decision is tied to another. I thought it appropriate for the story, thought it was something Nick would say at that particular moment in that particular conversation.
Words are fascinating, as are the choices we make with them. If you’re a writer, what personal reading influences do you see within your own works? And if you’re a reader, who do you find yourself reading over and over, and why?