Friday Fiction: A Writing Doppelganger?

Barack Obama & Ilham Anas

Do you know what a doppelganger is?  I didn’t – that is, until an episode of How I Met Your Mother defined the word for me.  According to American Heritage Dictionary, however, a doppelganger is “a ghostly double or counterpart of a living person.”  It’s a person who looks almost exactly like you you know, your “long, lost twin.”

Tina Fey & Sarah Palin

I get that all the time.  Numerous times, I have had someone proclaim, “You look just like a girl I knew in college!” or “You look almost exactly like my third cousin!”  Which is perennially weird for me because I don’t anyone who looks like me.  (How many 5’3”, puny, dirty blonde females with small green eyes and large bumpy noses can there be out there?)  Regardless, I don’t mind being compared to others.  Or thinking that somewhere out there, my physical twin is roaming around and being greeted with, “You look just like this woman in Texas I met!”

What is interesting to me is wondering whether I’m anyone’s writing doppelganger.  Does every author have a slightly unique style or flavor to their writing?  Or do some people write exactly the same?

The “If you liked ___, then you’ll like ___” approach is built on the premise that authors are similar enough in topic or writing style that you can confidently recommend one based on the other.  Some of my favorite classic authors are not so easily qualified.  Who, for instance, writes exactly like Leo Tolstoy?  Or Jane Austen?  Or Agatha Christie? Do they have writing doppelgangers?

Agatha Christie & __________

Is it important even to be one of a kind?  Most of the novels I pick up are not are impactful as Anna Karenina or Pride and Prejudice, but I enjoy them all the same.  A recreational read over a weekend can be as deliciously delightful as an epic novel that requires a month to devour.  So if this mystery by Author x reminds me of another mystery by Author Y, is that a big deal?  Not really.

Do you know of some writing doppelgangers?  That is, have you come across an author that almost seemed to channel another author in their writing?  Did you like that or not? Do you compare your own writing to anyone else’s?

6 thoughts on “Friday Fiction: A Writing Doppelganger?

  1. Oh, wow. I can't count on two hands how many times I've been mistaken for someone else.Not too long ago someone on Facebook compared my writing and updates to C.S.Lewis(still feel weird about writing that). THAT was probably one of the biggest pushes in my writing "career".So I have a feeling others will draw the same conclusions when my book is ready. Don't shoot me but I've yet to read anything Lewis has written. I know. We all have doppelgangers. Question is which is the stronger one?

  2. Being compared to C.S. Lewis is a high compliment! I took an entire course in college on his writings (Christian university). My favorite fiction of his is not the usual mentioned, but I highly recommend Till We Have Faces – a retelling of the Cupid and Psyche myth.Meanwhile, I think you look exactly like … well, you.

  3. I'm not aware of any writing dopplegangers, but I couldn't resist leaving a comment. I love your blog! I just subscribed. :)I first learned of dopplegangers in high school when Drew Barrymore starred in Doppleganger. It was one of my favorite words for the longest time…still is. So many people don't know what a doppleganger is!

  4. Thanks, Tiffany! I haven't seen that Barrymore film. The two films that come to my mind on this subject are Shattered (not exactly doppelganger) and Dave. Of course, Single White Female was a creepy attempt at the doppelganger thing.Writing wise, I do hear a lot of "if you liked so-and-so, you'll like such-and-such." Sometimes true, sometimes not.

  5. I really enjoyed reading your blog because it's exactly how Kristen Lamb taught us to "blog" – i.e. to your readers and not just to the writers. I love reading blogs that appeal to everyone and anyone. And this one made me think of how I have often been asked for queries wherein I'm supposed to say who I would compare my writing to. Actually, I hate that because I feel if I say, "I try to emulate Debbie Macomber" or "I love the writing of Nicholas Sparks" that I'll sound like a wannabe and that's not what I mean. I try to write what "I" would like to read. That's about it. Simple.

  6. Thanks, Patricia! I know that people differ on whether you should compare your writing to others. I find that a daunting task personally. Plus, aren't we all trying to be unique?I also try to write what I would like to read. Best approach. Well said!

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