Before anyone wonders, I haven’t been banned from WordPress. But I do need to explain myself…
I love to quote. Movies, regular TV, cartoons. Things like:
“Sometimes I lose my train of…burrito!” (Johnny Bravo)
“I can’t find that Velma nowheres” (Scooby Doo)
“They were once men, great kings of men” (The Fellowship of the Ring)
“A shot of bourbon, and a glass of bourbon, with a bourbon chaser!” (The Mummy)
“It was a thwack, or a kapow” (Gilmore Girls)
I love humor, and I use quotes to express that. If I find certain situations that I think I can slide a quote into, I do. Wouldn’t you say it’s hard to be consistently funny, all the time?
Well, Dad, Mom, and my brother Trent got sick of it. And I’m beginning to understand, as I’m writing this.
So I’ve been banned from quoting movies, TV, or commercials (books, video games, and songs were left alone).
But the point of today’s post is a lot of fiction writers and copywriters go through this too, in different ways, in relation to other writers’ work.
Copywriters are more notorious for copying things like sales letters by hand. Fiction writers read other peoples’ work, but I’m not sure they actually copy it–maybe some do.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t study what’s worked in the past–you should. It just depends on your niche and type of writing what you’ll be studying.
And why you’re studying what you are.
Writing out somebody else’s work might help you master important concepts, for sure. But there’s something missing from this, I think. Just one word.
As you’re reading a book, short story, email, or sales letter, and you feel something, stop. Put it down.
Now, answer these two questions:
What did I read that made me feel that way?
Why did I feel that way?
Do the best you can to answer these questions. Did something make you curious? Angry? Sad? Why? Did a good piece of description, or a good email postscript catch your eye? Or maybe you read short sentences that really put you on horseback in a good chase scene?
Write that down. Write it all down. Then analyze that–your reactions to what you read. It’s a balancing act between relying on reading or copying others’ work to give you perspective, and looking to analysis of others’ work to do that for you. The concepts for fiction writing and copywriting are what work–and there are tons of ways to put them into action.
I’ve done some sales-letter-copying in the past, don’t get me wrong.
But there’s another problem with the whole analysis thing–good writing sweeps you up so fast, you’re to the end before you realized you were hungry, the dog’s scratching to be let inside, or whatever. It’s a superpower fiction writers and copywriters share (and something for another post).
So have I been cured of quoting? No. I’ve slipped up numerous times a day, despite trying to shake my habit.
To make this more odd, there’s been talk of lifting the ban, after only about a month and a half or so. Mom and my brother had been starting and finishing quotes in front of me. So maybe they missed it. Or I’d been a good enough boy, for a long enough time. I don’t know.
I’m still working on being funny all the time–maybe I’ll let you know when I get there.
My brother made the point that I could quote on my blog, and nobody would be able to stop me. I hadn’t thought of that.
And here at Fiction and Copy Decoded, I’ll reference movies, TV, and so on, because a connection to fiction or copywriting has jumped out at me.
How about a quote from Galaxy Quest, to close out this post?
“Never give up! Never surrender!”
Until next time,