If you're in the midst of writing a novel, or any other kind of prose, be wary of what you read. Or watch. Books, films and quality TV shows with a strong, distinctive voice can influence your own style. Sometimes in a bad way, but other times for the better. But even if it improves your piece, tread carefully. Plagiarism is a dirty word. Only yesterday, after watching an old DVD, I blanched in horror, ran to the keyboard and opened up my work in progress, CHARLIE WILLIAMS'S OBSCURE LOCATION. Sure enough, there was that line:
"As I rounded the corner I felt muscular and compact. Like corned beef."It broke my heart to cut such an inspired simile, but imagine if I had noticed it AFTER publication, with the book on millions of shelves around the world and heading for a big Hollywood adaptation starring Benicio del Toro? No, the line had to go. Or at least undergo some changes. So I changed it to:
"As I went round the corner I felt compact and muscular. Like Spam."