Writer’s Craft #32 – Re-purposing Your Favs
Kari Terhark writes on getting mileage out of authors and scenes you love while making them your own. (Lynda)
Kari Terhark lives in the Bay area and works as a financial analyst. She is working on her first novel, a historical fantasy adventure.
When I finally decided to pick up my pen and start writing, I was hit with the realization that writing doesn’t come naturally. Panicked, I took to the web in search of advice (and found Clarion, thank you!)
One of my favorite nuggets came from Steven King, who said he sets aside so many hours a day to write and so many hours to read. I’ve made this my mantra, and in eighteen months I’ve accumulated two piles: (1) books written by Nobel Prize winning authors, and (2) books written by authors who make their living from writing. I read with highlighters, sticky notes and pens; and anything that catches my eye is flagged. I’ll often play with passages, tweaking it into my own story.
Here is an example of ‘making my own’. The passage comes from The Help, by Kathryn Stockett. On page 46, teenage Minny is set down by her mother and given the 7 rules for ‘working in a White Lady’s house’. Here is what caught my eye: “Rule Number Seven: this is the last one, Minny. Are you listening to me? No sass-mouthing.”
Here is how it ended up in my novel: (Jonathon has just saved Andrew from a whipping, based on questionable charges of stealing):
“Sit down,” Jonathon directed. He ushered Andrew to the officer’s lounge before he could say anything further that might get him thrown overboard. “Here are the rules for working on the Oristeen. First, you must never…are you listening to me?”
Andrew had finished his loaf of bread and was reaching for the one Jonathon set aside for himself. “Yes of course, continue.”
Jonathon shook his head. “You must never be late for muster; Willem has stiff punishments for that.”
“Like vat?” Andrew asked with his mouth full. He poured himself a glass of old world wine to wash it down.
“After you finish helping yourself to the senior merchant’s wine and need to use the head, you may notice how clean it is.”
Andrew stopped chewing. “What else?”
In your own work, which authors do you turn to for inspiration? Does their influence ever show up in your writing? Can you give an example?