Thursday, May 5, 2011

Aspiring Advice: The Merging Complex


I caught this lovely picture yesterday, thanks to my awesome siblings in-law. Nice way to rile up (or make laugh) the fans of science fiction and fantasy on Star Wars Day (how come I never heard of that until now?). The nice thing about this picture was that it gave me an excellent way to introduce the theme for this month. Welcome, magicians and astronauts, to Managing May.

What is a Merging Complex?

To be honest, I made it up. We're writers. Making stuff up is our prerogative, right? Good writers, however, explain their make-ups. A Merging Complex is the result of dipping your fingers and brain-matter into so many projects that your voice, style, and plot or character arcs wedge their way into WiPs where they wouldn't belong (say that five times fast). The same can apply to reading a lot while working on your WiP. If you're able to do that and get away with it, by all means, write away. For some oddball reason, I tend to absorb another author's style or inject character traits into someone from another story. How do I go about preventing this complex? Limit my projects to no more than two at a time, and do my reading as a reward between WiPs. Easy enough. It helps me stay focused more than anything else. Helps to manage editing time, too.

Example: I wrote my second Sci-Fi novel while reading The Lord of the Rings at the same time. Imagine my face when my sister read it and said, "they talk like Aragorn."

Oops . . . . I won't even get into how the narrative read.

This is not the rule, just my thoughts on the matter. We are about having fun and inventing new worlds. If we absorb too much, it could instill adverse effects to our writing. Readers might pick up on it, so you may want to pay attention. I'm sure we all love Yoda and all, but I don't think it would be wise to merge him with a GPS.

Have you ever found yourself merging elements and voices of other stories into your own? How do you keep your voice unique while indulging in others?

I'm David, and I hope the "4th" was with you. 


  1. Oh, yes, I do that! If I'm reading a book (any sort of book, whether I like the plot/voice/etc. or not) while writing I'll merge styles and elements.

    I try to lessen that effect by reading a passage in my current project that I know I've written in my own style.

  2. I don't read other people's books very much when working on a first draft to avoid this.

  3. I had a friend once say something along the lines of "hey, did I see this last week on Buffy the Vampire Slayer?"

    My response? Good writers borrow. Great writers steal from Joss Whedon...

  4. I was reading this book the other day and thought to myself.."Hey wait a sec, didn't I read this somewhere else?" ;)

    I agree,good writers borrow then they should add their own flair to it. Easier said than done though. :)

  5. This happens all the time for me. I'll be thinking about, say, asteroids, and all my storie will suddenly have asteroids in them (even the fantasy-- hmm sounds cool).

    I like to dart around between different stories. I'll have quite a few on the go.