Monday Thoughts on Creativity: Comparison as Development

Oh Monday, why are you so persistent?

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When I read a book, whether it’s in my genre or not, I constantly think about what I would have done differently. I don’t mean that in a critical way. I mean that I wonder whether I would have included certain details, whether I would have expanded some sections, what my own word choice would have been. It’s not a criticism of the author, it’s an exploration of myself. I wonder how different the book would be if I’d written it, what differentiates me from the author I’m reading.

Exploring differences is just as important as exploring similarities, only differences define you more clearly. They draw a line, whether a thin one or a thick one, between you and thousands of others in your genre. Thinking about what a book would have been if someone else had written it, or what a movie would have become if someone else had acted in it or directed it, is all part of expanding your creativity and your artistry. The more you can say, “I would have done it this way,” the clearer your own style becomes. And the more you can say that and still see why the author chose to do it the way they did – well, the broader your view, the more distinctive your own voice becomes.

Morals and Ethics in Your Work

I recently read a Victorian novel called Can You Forgive Her? by Anthony Trollope, and the thing which stood out the most to me was the author’s unusual opinions on morals. One example is that one of the male characters, Burgo Fitzgerald, can’t help that he’s an alcoholic and a gambler with no real feelings for anybody because of how beautiful he is. Trollope blames Burgo’s beauty for all of his flaws and says that he might have been a better person if he wasn’t so good looking.

Do you think stating something so controversial, i.e. that attractive people aren’t responsible for their flaws, is a good or a bad idea in your writing? Do you think morals have a place in ALL writing or only certain genres?