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 devise your writing as such. The Lord’s blessings to you.

14 Comments

  1. Harliqueen says:

    I completely agree, sometimes I get really down when I compare myself to other writers, then realise that my work is different, everyone writes individually and that’s what makes it so great 🙂

    1. You are so right, Harliqueen. Each of us writes differently and is an individual so use your gifts in your own way. God bless.

  2. ScorpionGlow says:

    I don’t worry about what anyone else is writing. I write my own story and I write what I know. I think that’s the best thing to focus on. Moreover, I try NOT to bash another author’s hard work, even if I don’t like it. I’d rather not write a review than say something negative.

    1. That is so good you do not worry about what someone else says. Writing your own story in your way is the best path to follow. There always is someone who does not like your work. God bless.

      1. ScorpionGlow says:

        I have enough experience to be confident and not focus on the negative. I know my work well enough to know when it is good and know when it isn’t. I think that’s an important trait all writers should have.

        You cannot and will not please everyone. The goal is to attempt to please yourself.

  3. A very good post.

    I have from time to time written negative reviews, but it must be backed up by good reasons.

    1. That is good. An honest review means a lot and can, in some cases, help the author hone his/her skills. God bless.

  4. jlknapp505 says:

    If I can’t give at least three stars, I won’t review.
    I understand that not all books are good, but having worked very hard at writing the best books I can, I understand what other writers feel. No one else knows the anxiety that follows assembling months of work and putting it out in the hope that strangers, readers, will like it.
    A review, in a sense, is an opinion of the book’s author, not solely of the book.
    Nowadays I sign my reviews, ‘Book Title’ followed by ‘A review by Jack L Knapp’. It makes it easy for anyone to find similar reviews I’ve done.
    And for that matter, find my books on Amazon.

  5. You are so right about the work involved in getting a book written and published. There is much anxiety which goes along with this. Those never involved in the process do not understand this. That is a good policy – to not write a review unless you can give the book three stars. God bless.

  6. jakeescholl says:

    When I started writing many years ago (Hard to believe it was 10 years ago!) , I would take maybe 5 pages of a novel, and write those pages using my own words, rather than copying the author. If you practice like that, it can be handy… Just don’t try to publish those exercises.

    1. That is a good idea to write another author’s scenes in your own words. I see a lot of value in doing that to hone your writing skills. God bless.

  7. dm yates says:

    I enjoyed your post and I agree. First place, slamming other authors is childish and arrogant to think that it won’t come back to you sometime. I review books because I love to read and because reading others’ works hones my writing abilities.

    1. So true. It does not do an author any good to trash another’s work, but an honest review is beneficial not only for the reader but the author in what they did right and where they could improve. However, this only works if the writer believes the evaluation is honest. God bless.

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