Monday, October 25, 2010

Writing Influences

@hannahnpbowman challenged me to write about ideas from my favourite books that have influenced my writing.* That was on Friday. I've spent bits of the weekend thinking about the subject, and pretty much drawing a blank. I've probably lifted something at some point, but honestly, I try not to do anything bigger than allude to something. There are certainly tropes that I have in common with other writers, but that's because they're tropes and half the writers** out there use the same ones.

Books that have inspired me in more general ways, however? Those I can write about. Observe.

Most of the books that have inspired me have inspired my theory of magic—what it is, how it acts, what it does. A lot of books went into the theory, but a big one was The Golden Compass. There was something about Dust that seemed magical to me when I first read it (and still seems magical today). My idea that magic is a sort of particle that's attracted to belief stems directly from that story.

Another book with a great sense of magic (though there may not actually be magic in it) is The Secret Garden. I cannot tell you how many times I read that growing up, but enough that the cover's pretty damaged—and I never damage covers if I can help it. There's such a sense of natural beauty and presence and life coming back to people and places …. That's how magic feels, to me.

Other books I read a lot as a kid: The Hobbit, and most of the "true" paranormal, cryptid, and UFO stories in the town library. I credit Hobbit with getting me into fantasy (and I think it might've been the first novel I read on my own), and I credit the "true" stories with fueling my fascination with the macabre and creepy. They didn't start the fascination—I'm not sure what did, possibly the Egyptian Mummy phase—but they definitely spurred it along.

There are a lot of more scattered influences (urban fantasy novels in general, for example) but I want to close on this note: I really, really want to write as awesomely as Neil Gaiman and Lois McMaster Bujold, and would dearly love to be half as funny as Terry Pratchett. Honestly. I covet Gaiman's imagination and penchant for eerieness, Bujold's … everything but mostly her characterization, and Pratchett's satire and dialogue. Then again, if I ever to reach their level of craft and someone tells me this, I might explode from happiness and that would be bad.

Who's influenced you?

* Yes, another Twitter topic.
** If not more.


Hannah said...

Interesting! I'll post more on this on Wednesday. I also like to think I only allude to other books, rather than lifting things (don't we all?) but I tend to freak out and notice every similarity, no matter how trivial, when I'm reading something, and then have to remind myself it's okay to be influenced by other books. And that there are no really original ideas. :-)

I like the way you express the Dust from The Golden Compass. I never thought of it that way. It's an interesting view of magic, too, because it's really very different from the way I think of magic (sort of manipulation of an energy field, generally, where the field is less important than the mental control of it).

Anassa said...

Oh, you want to talk about freak-outs? I could tell you stories. Mostly about things that have been invented since I wrote them into my WIP, but … yes, freak-outs happen over here, too.

To me, that mental control is still required (we're not really meant to channel magic, and it's got a will of its own), and the energy field is still sort of present (matter = energy). But magic's more a particle than anything else.

Hannah said...

I just wrote a post about this. It contains a long digression about my views of magic, mostly. It's interesting that you're on the particle side of the fence, because I think I rely more on the 'wave' nature of magic. :-)

I'm glad I'm not the only one who freaks out. Seriously, every time I read a book I see a similarity to my WIP. Every single time. :-)

Anassa said...

I saw! I haven't read, but I will. Tonight sometime, probably. :-)

One of my most recent attacks was when I discovered that no, I wasn't the only person writing superhero fantasy… At some point I'll get the nerve to read the other stuff, though I already know I'm not doing the same thing with the heroes.

Cordria said...

Hm... influences are always fun to write about. :)

I try really hard not to 'lift' things from what I read, but I have such a bad memory that I'm sure I do it and don't even realize it. But it happens... I guess. But I try to be real and my own.

I think I agree with you, though. There aren't many specific authors that really influence me. There are many authors I really enjoy reading: Garth Nix, Jim Butcher, Diane Wynn Jones, Robert Aspirin, etc... but I'm not sure I write like them at all.

...and honestly, I'm not sure I'd want to. It'd be awesome to be that popular and actually make money and such, but I like MY style of writing and I want to be known for MY writing, not for being a lot like so-and-so. I think it's cool being myself and being unique, whether or not it ever gets me anywhere.

I know I'm probably not as 'unique' in my writing as a lot of people, but whatever. I don't poke the balloon too much or it'll pop. :D

As for magic, I'm not sure any book really did it for me, creating magic. It was folktales, my grandmother's stories, and my own reverent respect for nature and all it's hellish beauty that did it. I see magic as life - a part of it, inside each of us, what gives us life and all the special things that go with it. I'm picky with the 'science' aspect of magic - mostly if it doesn't make sense to me or seems really silly, I don't like reading about it. :)

Lovin' the blog updates.


Anassa said...

Cori - Yeah, I want to stay myself too. It would just be wonderful if I could achieve the level of mastery other people have. (Preferably yesterday. I'm impatient.)

Hannah said...

I agree. I don't think I write like other people, but I definitely see the influence that their ideas and styles of structuring a story have had on me.

I am also impatient. I wish my own style would hurry up and become developed, so I knew how it is that I write!