Most writers are influenced by someone, either to start their career, for knowledge about how to write and.motivation.
Who would you say is your greatest writing influence, in terms of your writing style, and why?
Here are their unedited responses.
My greatest writing influence comes from several different places.To start with, I love mystery books, but it was Sue Grafton’s alphabet series that made me think I could write a mystery. Then LaVyrle Spencer’s books that had real people’s struggles and Nora Robert’s books that pulled you in with her character’s depth. I use all those things to help craft my stories along with my storytelling brain. Then all the critique partners I’ve had over the years sit on my shoulder keeping me from making the same writing mistakes I made when they were critiquing with me.
While I am by no means comparing myself to Sir Terry Pratchett, he would be my choice. I love the way he takes what on Earth passes for normal (newspapers, cameras, trains…) and in Ankh-Morpork not so much, then sprinkles his sarcastic humour all over it. For my second work-in-progress I am doing something similar with the Norse myths. And re-reading Sir Terry’s works is a very pleasant way to improve my writing skills!
I know I’m cheating, but I must add Marian Keyes, especially as based on comps both her and my books belong in “women’s fiction”. She manages to write about very difficult subjects – mental illness, death, addiction, etc. – in a way that makes me laugh just often enough not to end up depressed as if I had just read the saddest book ever. Sometimes I say I don’t know how to switch off my sense of humour. I might be writing a scene which is really quite terrifying, but one or more of the characters will invariably say something that will add an extra layer. The scene will still be terrifying, but it won’t be painful to get through the way it would have been had I chosen to write it super-seriously. (I hope!) This is what I am like in my daily life as well, but both Marian Keyes and Sir Terry Pratchett have shaped me to become this person.
Bjørn Larssen – writer, blacksmith, spiritual Icelander
Cathy J Sirett
I have read widely my whole life, and enjoy many different approaches and styles. I am sure they have all influenced me. However the two that I have consciously worked at influencing my writing style are Ray Bradbury and Lee Child
Two quite different styles you might think, but they have some similarities too.
Ray Bradbury for his poetic descriptions of other world and other lives. In his stories he creates universes that are believable and authentic. And a little bit weird.
The similarity with his writing and that of Lee Child is that neither of these writers ever wastes a word. Their writing is uneditable. And yet they both create wonderful works of fiction. In another similarity, epitomised by the time Ray Bradbury once sat in a shop window and guaranteed to write a story for any idea brought to him, he and Lee Child are both great believers in the graft of writing, of sitting down and getting it done. Neither of them has time or patience with writer’s block, and write with an underlying pragmatism, however different their content!
I would have to say that I had five writing style influences, and try as I might, I cannot eliminate any of them.
In my early years it was Cornelia Otis Skinner, Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. Their droll approach at humor never failed to amuse and entertain me. As dark as some of their topics were, their depictions of characters and how they behaved would often have me laughing out loud.
By the time I reached high school, I had added James Thurber to the mix. The Night the Bed Fell on Grandpa felt as though it had happened in my life, and in fact, that type of event was not uncommon as I grew up. I frequently wrote letters and then emails to family and acquaintances using these four icons to help guide my style.
Humor was what kept our family together, and humor is in my veins. I guess writing humorous novels was inevitable.
As I prepared to write my first novel, Janet Evanovich joined the ranks of influences. The grace and ease with which she is able to move from serious issues to hilarious occurrences is something I wanted to emulate. I actually studied the components of her work to form a pattern for my own. Enough humor, but not so much that it destroys the balance of the plot.
This isn’t an easy answer for me. My influence, at least to me, is a bit complicated.
First, I have read Stephen King longer than any other author. I’ve also read more of his books than any other author. At the time it was starting to enter my brain that I should try writing, I ran across King’s book ‘On Writing’. I loved his biography and how he explained different writing elements. This was a big push for me to want to sit down and write.
Second, and this seems weird, but I discovered Castle. The kids and I loved Nathan Filion but had never watched this show. For no reason, it seems, out of the blue, we decided to watch an episode. OMG! We loved it. And what’s this? Castle is a writer. Hmmmmm.
Third – almost the same week as watching Castle, I ended up visiting some new friends in a group I’m a part of. Entered their house and the kids and I stopped – they had walls covered with books. It was awesome. Throughout the evening we perused the books while talking with various people. One conversation between my host and another guest centered on Stephen King and the good and bad of his writing. I threw in my 2 cents worth. THEN – I find out that my host is a famous, popular author! (I’m not going to reveal his name, just trust me.) OK, with the other things, I think some supreme guiding force was pushing me to try this writing thing.
Once I started actually writing, I noticed things differently in the books I read. I started seeing how different authors handled different situations, and found that the style I seemed to naturally veer closest to was Rick Riordan’s. Go figure.
I’m not conscious of any writers influencing my style. I truly try to be as original as possible. My dialogue basically comes from my imagination and situations I’ve lived through. If I have picked up from other novelists, it’s not by choice but rather subliminally. But I am fully aware of taking notes from great plot writers via movies, such as: Out of the Past (Build My Gallows High – Geoffrey Homes), Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (Bodies Are Where You Find Them – Brett Halliday), and The Hot Spot (Hell Hath No Fury – Charles Williams).
There are a few authors who have influenced my writing in terms of subject manner but not in terms of style. I’ve read a lot of Stephen King works and could only strive to write in a similar style, but it doesn’t come naturally for me. However, I often write in this genre. Toni Morrison’s Beloved is one of my all-time favorite novels, but again her style is one I cannot naturally emulate; however, I try to incorporate a dark psychological theme. Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places is perhaps the closest to influencing my writing style. She masterfully weaves chapters of flashback with the plot. In my first draft of Haunting of Maple Creek I considered incorporating flashback chapters, but I’ve read a lot of writing advise discouraging lengthy flashback passages. I believe my style is uniquely mine, although I continually learn the craft from other authors.
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