C is for Cheating

My A-Z Challenge this year is about writing adult content in fiction – you will not find any adult fiction within the parameters of the challenge, except for illustration purposes.

Word is, there’s no such thing as a novel idea. Everything’s been done. So what we have left at our disposal as writers is our literary “voice.” It’s like our fingerprint, smushed up on the pages of everything we write. Nobody would confuse Shakespeare and Stephen King and nobody should confuse us with someone else. Right?

Even if we have a strong writing voice, there are only so many things we can write about based on our own experience. Pain, for instance. We’ve all felt it, some of us more than others. As writers we describe it the best way we know how, in terms that our readers can relate to. But like certain song writers, eventually we start to sound the same. And if we’re not careful we start plagiarizing ourselves.

Writing the same thing over and over isn’t fun for a reader (Dan Brown) and it will eventually lead to readers getting bored of what we do. So what do we do?

Stephen King himself went through a period of seeming bitterness in which every book he wrote contained someone getting disabled (temporarily and possibly permanently, I’m not sure, I got tired of it) by a car crash after his own experience with being run over. Not to go on and on about 50 Shades, but the number of times Ana and Christian’s arguments ended in a fuck were in the hundreds. How did E.L. James keep it fresh every time? She didn’t.

What’s my advice? Stop trying to write the same thing over and over again. Cheating in the form of self-plagiarism will only turn people off.

 

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16 thoughts on “C is for Cheating

  1. I think Miss Izzy when you find yourself writing the same thing it’s time to move on, change direction or even in my case put in a permanent full stop.
    Writing has to feel fresh to you like each time you are exploring something new.
    This is an excellent post to reflect on what I write and how i do it.
    Have a Good Friday.

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    • It’s easy to get stuck and sometimes hard to move on. Knowing when to quit is important too.
      Thanks very much, Sir Michael. I hope you had a Good Friday and that you’re having a most excellent Saturday. 😀

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  2. I’m going to disagree slightly. I can certainly see where you’re coming from but as an Iris Johansen fan, I can’t be honest and agree fully. Her novels are pure escapism for me and I know exactly what I’m going to get. An emotional wreck of a woman will be in trouble, a strong man will come to protect her, he will have a friend that inexplicably is a master spy but not for any government, at some point one of the guys will doink the basket case, and the protein injection will give her the courage and power to overcome whomever is threatening her. It’s formulaic, repetitive, and I love every minute of it.

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  3. It’s lazy. A lot of those “best-selling” authors who seemingly churn out a new novel every quarter seem to just plug in new names and sometimes a different hair colour, but keep recycling the stories. Unforgivable.

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    • I often get the impression that they had to write to fulfill a contract so they just slapped something together. I don’t know if it’s them or their publishers, but they’re both getting shot in the foot.
      Thanks for your comment. 🙂

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  4. I agree that’s it’s hard to be original, but blatantly copying/repeating yourself is as easy as it is unforgivable:) I think all artists indulge in some way. Painters have recurrent colours and themes, too. Perhaps it’s inevitable, so we just try to be aware of the tendency and keep what we write as fresh as possible.

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