Fiction File: Something You Shouldn’t Do With Your Reading…

How’s your week been so far? Mine’s been great–I’ve been working on a type of project I’ve never even tried to do before, and I’m pretty jazzed about it. When it’s finished, you’ll know, and I’ll let you in on the fun…

Anyway, let’s get to it for today.

This is the first Fiction File I’ve written in a really long time–with tips mostly for fiction writers.

Last post, I mentioned how writers have to read. (And why–which I may flesh out on its own as the subject of another post.)

In all my fiction learning, I came across a very famous author who said writers should read to get the structure/feel of the type of novels they’d like to write. Cool. And then he said, with me paraphrasing:

In the name of all that’s holy, do not copy it.

His point was to notice what people are doing, and then don’t do things exactly that way.

If a book you’re reading involves a girl who can heal people, who has a boyfriend, and who lives in New Orleans, you wouldn’t want to write a book with all those same elements in it. (And you also shouldn’t plagiarize, either–most of you know that, but in case no one’s ever said…)

It’s a bit of a toss-up for me, because all the major types of plots have been done over and over, as a general arc. But we create different stories by changing out elements of the setting, backstory, putting in different characters, and what-have-ya.

But if there’s a normal people/normal things type deal in your novel, you want to stay away from doing things exactly the way that other people have been doing them–you might not have a choice, to an extent, though.

You want to create twists, but you don’t want to twist things so out of shape that nobody knows what the heck you’re up to.

Take a piece of something that you read–the most impactful part for you–and change all the other elements in it to something else, if you want to try to model something.

That way, the writing will matter to you, and editors are somewhat less likely to think you’re trying to do something the way everyone else is.

Until next time,



About Ty Mall

Thanks for stopping by. I've almost always been interested in writing, among other things. Along with discovering pop culture, I've uncovered a lot about the craft over the past 10 years. And whether you're a fiction writer or email copywriter, I'm here to pass on what I've found out. And have a ton of fun in the process.
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