I am currently working on my second novel. My first novel is written, but in desperate need of revision. Currently, it is in timeout while I try to gain some distance from it. I did do a first-round edit for grammar and POV before putting it in timeout, and I learned something in the process.
Like Kaye, I can be a sponge. But I am not always a sponge. When I look back at what I read while I was writing different sections, I realized that I pick up the style of other romance and chick-lit writers, yet I have my own style when I am reading other genres. I read a lot while I wrote my first novel, ranging from a funny British romance to medical thrillers. It is obvious when I was reading the British romance—my style mimicked it. My North Carolina born-and-bred characters were suddenly saying “bloody” this and calling elevators lifts. As soon as I finished that book, I went on to a James Patterson novel.
The novel was set in New York, but my characters suddenly became southerners again. I didn’t bring any of the style of that novel into my own, perhaps because it was so different than what I was writing. Through the rest of the novel, I channel my inner Nora Roberts and Carly Phillips, but not Robin Cook (my all-time favorite author) or Catherine Coulter.
When I first noticed this, I thought I was insane, but I have since seen several writers say that they can’t read in-genre while they are writing. Apparently, I am not alone. Which makes me feel somewhat more sane. 🙂
So, as I approach this second novel, I am avoiding reading anything that I may be tempted to mimic. It is important to me that I develop my own voice, and I can’t seem to do that when I read certain genres. So, I will stick to the mystery/crime/medical thrillers that I love so much, and pretend that there are no romance novels I have yet to read. Lucky for me, I have recently found the Rizzoli and Isles series by Tess Gerritson, and I can’t seem to put the books down. So, I have something to read, at least for a little while.
Of course, I am not really writing yet—I am finishing up my outline. Even I shouldn’t be able to absorb someone else’s style in an outline. So, I guess I will just need to pack in as many romance novels as I can this week. I can then bond with the crime-fighting ladies again next week, when the actual writing begins.
Who are your favorite authors? Are your tastes as diverse as mine, or do you stick to one genre? Do you have to avoid reading a certain genre when writing? Most importantly, do you have any good recommendations for me on other books to read while I write? 🙂