Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What Makes Your Writing Unique?

How does your writing differ from everyone else’s out there? What special experiences or credentials do you bring to the table? What portions of yourself do you put into the writing itself?

I’m always interested in what makes people tick and what makes their writing tick. My current novel is based on the American Civil War, and although I have multiple degrees in History and English, I feel that my travels to various regions and my participation as a reenactor has given me a perspective that allows me to add a unique touch to my work. I always want to know the details you can’t find in other books, i.e. what a place really smells like and how the dawn after a cold night in a tent makes you feel.

So what experiences have shaped your work-in-progress? Do you go looking for these influences or do they just find you? In other words, what makes your writing unique? 


  1. I think personal experience influences all of us. The character that I'm writing right now is a lot like I was as a teenager only much cooler. It's kind of like playing out a fantasy of how I wish my life could be (but only in some ways.) Makes me think though :)

  2. Not sure. I guess if it's personal experience, then my writing is the result of watching a ton of science fiction movies and shows.

  3. I guess the only thing that makes my writing different is my unique perspective. I know from experience that I don't generally see things the same way other people do. I'm often way off by comparison. :)

  4. While my characters aren't versions of teenager me, I do lift liberally from things I knew growing up. I didn't play any sports but all my friends did which helps because my current WIP has a student athlete as the protag. A lot of interests in random things (like coding, shoes, obscure English history, etc.) brings a nice diversity too for shaping out well rounded characters.

  5. Hmm... writing fantasy, I sort of got a taste of war being a medieval reenactor. The sounds of large groups clashing and hearing the bang of swords on armor... even though those swords are rattan... I still got a good feel for the sounds. I mean, you can watch movies with battle scenes, but those sound effects are enhanced. This gave me first hand experience. I also got to camp out in the desert in winter. I have yet to camp out in winter like in the midwest somewhere, but living in Alaska, I sort of know the smells and the feeling of waking up cold, lol!
    I like knowing what makes people tick, I like giving my characters interesting quirks I've picked up in people... I bring past experiences to my characters as well. I also love researching medieval history and utilize that knowledge too.
    Good post!

  6. Now there's a difficult question to answer. In the beginning... ;) But seriously, I think every experience I've ever had has shaped me into the writer I am today. All of it somehow works its way into my stories.

  7. Hmm . . . I'm not really sure. I don't tend to write about things I've actually experienced--Science Fiction is a bit far removed from my life. :P But I love science and math; anything related to them is potential story material for me.

    Love the pics you chose. :)

  8. I'm not really out looking for inspiration. Someone might speak a certain way and I'll make a mental note of their speech pattern. A flick of hair, certain interesting gait, etc... I guess I'm a huge people watcher. :)

  9. Like many others said... experience is a biggie. But also how we see the world, think about it. I think that's where our voice comes from.

  10. I think being a teenager changes your perspective. I haven't seen as many things or had as many experiences as older authors, but that doesn't make the way I view the world less valid; it's simply different.

    Not many modern teens write for publication, so it's a very uncommon perspective in the given market. I'd like to think it makes my stories a little different.

    PS: do you need anymore beta readers? I loved what I read of your story and would be excited to read and critique more.

  11. Voice is huge. Being able to be identified by how you word something uniquely is an amazing writer-ly achievement :)

  12. J.A. – Personal def influences us, and I think your example of fantasizing about ones self in another setting is a hallmark of literature:)

    Alex – LOL:) Guess all that TV wasn’t so bad after all;)

    L.G. – It’s okay, I’m usually way off compared to most people as well. It’s part of what makes us special;)

    Steph – I suppose the “random” things are a great way of making a well-rounded character…maybe even a well-rounded person.

    Caledonia – Wow, medieval, def will provide some experiences:) I’m big on the whole “learn by doing” motto myself, so I can definitely see the motivation…plus it’s just plain good fun.

    Lynda – In the beginning indeed, lol:) I suppose you’re right though, everything in our lives sooner or later ends up in our writing.

    Eagle – Perhaps you write about things you’ve “experienced” in your mind:) I think dreams should def count too.

    Ciara – I’ve found it difficult to look for inspiration…it tends to come in its own good time:)

    Kelley – Mmm, very good point about the origin of voice! I think you’re on to something there.

    McKenzie – A teen’s perspective is very valuable for sure! Thanks for offering to do more beta reading for me…I’ll def take you up on it:)

    Kelley – Wow, must be something about the Kelleys here;) You both brought up voice and you’re both dead on, great insights!

  13. Hi Mark. I'm here as the co-host of the Pay It Forward blogfest. Thanks so much for signing up!

    And I wasn't following your blog until just now, so the fest is already working.

  14. I think writing is as unique as the writer. It's a difficult balance of craft, voice, and creative language.

  15. Hello, I am taking part in the blogfest. My plan was to click and run, but I like it here. I have no credentials and am NOT an avid reader, so I am a very insecure writer. But I'm getting better. My serious writing began after the death of my son. I find that if I stay here... in that deep part of your soul, words flow. simple words, but they line up and when they do I get this little RUSH of pure joy. My favorite things to write are short stories. I'm learning how to say less with a stronger impression. I'm a terrible speller.

  16. Matthew – Awesome, thanks for stopping by!

    Creepy – Very true, it’s a difficult craft that produces unique results with each author.

    Green Monkey – Glad you like it here:) We’ve all got our insecurities, but that’s part of what connecting with fellow authors is all about. Thanks for stopping in:)