Comparing Yourself with Others

Comparing your writing to another author can be positive or negative, depending upon how you use it.

A few authors out there slam a fellow author’s book with one and two star reviews. Some of these reviews were honest evaluations while others were not.

Base your critique on such criteria as readability, storyline, plot durability, realistic dialogue, grammar and more. If you do not believe you can do this, then do not write a review. There is nothing wrong with that.

Authors need time to write their own stories, engage in social media and do whatever else to promote their work and if this leaves little time to read others’ materials and write reviews then do not do it.

I write reviews because it keeps my followers informed on what else I am doing besides my work in progress. However, you need to do what works for you.

Reading, though, does help you with your own work. I gleam a lot from reading (when I have time to do so) in the way of word choices, character names, plot ideas and descriptions.

Currently, I am reading Mary Connealy’s Calico Canyon. The villain is Parrish. I like the way Connealy describes him. “But his temper goaded him. He hungered to make her sorry for what she’d done. The image of her cowering under his fists kept him awake at night and rode him like a spur [my italics] all day.”

Playing off one another is great as long as we are not taking their words and ideas verbatim. There really are only so many story concepts out there, but the bends and turns we add make the difference. Take, for example, the Twilight series. The gut of the story is romance with a werewolf twist.

Remember to write your way, however. If you try to write like another author, you will fail. After all God gave you your own gifts not another’s. In my work, I try to set a scene with the five senses.

I also like to include historical details, such as I did in Ruth Ann Nordin’s and my anthology, Bride by Arrangement, set in Lincoln, Neb., in 1876. The book includes two novellas. Ruth’s story is The Purchased Bride and mine is She Came by Train. Below is an excerpt from my novella highlighting an old hymn:

“As the afternoon sun rays glimmered on the pearly keys, Opal settled herself on the piano stool. Opening one of the hymnals, she turned the page to ‘When the Roll is Called up Yonder.’ Stroking the keys, her fingers graced the notes. She sang as she played the tune.

“‘When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound and time shall be no more, And the morning breaks, eternal, bright, …’ Footsteps approached. ‘When the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there. … When the roll is called up yonder., I’ll be there.’ Finished with the chorus, she turned to Mr. Crowley, who stood in front of her. ‘Yes?’

“‘Miss Preston, you have two visitors. One is named Ada Wilcox.’”

My brother loved reading an author who added Native American details into his work. Doing this helps set your writing apart. However, if you are one who does not care for research (which takes time) then write what fits you. I enjoy learning about time periods and how people lived. By the way, one of the best ways to gather information is to visit historical homes.

I also read a variety of genres, including romance, mystery, suspense and non-fiction. I read Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Lincoln. It gave you a wonderful feel for the time period which helps me with my own writing. Even heartwarming, spiritual true stories, such as Heaven is for Real, enables me to capture emotions and to be able to use these in my own work.

In conclusion, it can be good to compare yourself to others if you do this with the right intent but also stay true to yourself. Write your own story. Garner methods and styles from others, but as you do so remember to fashion your own storyline and descriptions according to your own heart and dictates. God created you as you are so fashion your writing as such. The Lord’s blessings to you.

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About janetsyasnitsick

Visit blog for writing, marketing tidbits to dazzle your creative endeavors. New book: Courtships and Carriages, a sweet Christian romance, (two proposals but who wins Gwen's heart?). Other works: Ruth Ann Nordin's and Janet Syas Nitsick's anthology, Bride by Arrangement; Janet's five-star, inspiring-historical romance, Lockets and Lanterns; 10th place story, "The Silver Lining;" and Best of Year book, Seasons of the Soul. Background: former journalist and language-arts teacher. www.JanetSyasNitsick.com
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8 Responses to Comparing Yourself with Others

  1. dorothypaula says:

    Dear Janet, your articles are instructive and interesting. I brought your January 28 article on “Writing Descriptions” to the Writers’ Group I belong. We all enjoyed it and learned from it. Thank you. 🙂

  2. Oh thank you so much for your kind words, Dorothy. I am glad your group enjoyed and gleamed information from my “Writing Descriptions” article. God bless.

  3. robinelevin says:

    I write a lot of reviews. I find it a very good exercise because you have to say a lot in a few words. I never trash another author, it’s unkind and what goes around comes around. On the other hand I evaluate the work on whether it holds my interest, whether it’s properly edited, and, in the case of historical fiction, whether the author gets the historical facts right. If I can say yes to all three, I will give the work five stars, if not, then it will get a lesser rating.
    I don’t compare my writing to others. I think every author is unique.If you have a story to tell, you must tell it in your own way.

    • It is good you evaluate their work on its merits. I think an honest review is helpful not only for the reader but also is insightful for the writer as well. The author knows where their story works, where it fails and can adjust their next piece accordingly to that input. You also are right every creative is unique and needs to tell their story in their own way. God bless.

  4. Lee-Ann says:

    Thank you for posting an interesting blog, though I must say that I do not agree with it for the most part. I think that it is always good to learn from others, especially those who we admire. I do not think comparing one to another is ever good however. We are all individuals and we must embrace that, to begin comparing is a slippery slope. I think that by doing so we are not true to ourselves and our work. I enjoy being different, being me and being original.

    • You are right we can learn from others. However we write our own way, and this is a good thing. Thanks for your comments, and I am happy you like my blog. I appreciate that a lot. God bless.

  5. Thank you for this, Janet. I’m not a religious person, but I am spiritual and believe I was blessed with the gift of writing. It’s the only one of my attributes in which I’m 100% confident; plus, it’s very therapeutic. I’ve encountered discussions in a couple of my Linked In groups about the value (or lack of value) writers place on themselves.

  6. Thanks Alejandro for your input. Yes, we need to value our gifts, and in my case those come from the Almighty. He gives me ideas to turn into plots. Keep pursuing your writing dream in spite of the daily challenges which come against you. God bless.

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