My writing group points out that there are two things most of my stories have in common--something happens in the dark, and in almost every book there is a garden.
All writers have patterns, and often they're not even aware. For example, a particular mystery writer generally names the "poor secretary" Edith or Ethel. This person is almost always one of the victims, a single overweight woman whose life focuses around her job. Her boss is often the murderer. She is usually murdered because she is loyal to that boss or the murderer thinks she knows something. She is invariably the secondary victim which tells everyone that something is indeed happening.
Patterns in writing are not always this obvious.
In order to identify patterns we must have more than one sample, and the more the better. But as each author writes more, readers who pay attention are going to start to see the patterns in the writing. Or maybe I'm just weird that way.
It may be something simple like a description or phrase that shows up in every book. It may be a character archetype or a situation.
One writer might always have an orphaned character, while another deals with various forms of abuse. One might find that a particular character name sneaks into every book. Every writer has his or her (h/er, for those who've wondered what my personal shorthand means) own patters.
Patterns can be a helpful part of branding, or they can detract. It is possible in some cases to make a fairly good image of a writers psyche by the patterns in their writing. Sometimes a reader can see hints of the writers past. This can be good, but it can also detract.
The important thing as writers is that we recognize these patterns and either use them consciously or discard them. Reading your own books may not be sufficient--it might take others pointing them out to you. At that point, YOU have to decide whether you want to keep the pattern.
It might also be necessary to dig deeper and find out why the pattern exists. Or not.
I've always loved gardens, and that is one pattern I have no intention of changing.
What are some of your patterns, or patterns you've seen in others' writing?
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