It’s like that legendary British TV series, Are You Being Served?, only completely different. In fact, I want to talk to you about how reading other people’s work may influence your own writing. Emphasis on may, which is why we are here.
So, if you are a writer of some sort, maybe an author, has another man’s or woman’s work swayed your hand. Made you compose sentences, uses phrases and words that you normally would not. Do you think that reading others’ prose pollutes your mind and creativity?
Several weeks back, I talked to you about how I started my career and fun in fantasy, with The Hobbit. But I did not elaborate too much on the influence. If you ask me, do you think your own style has a bit of Tolkien in it? Well, not any more. But it sure did once.
When I was a teenager, I was influenced, I had to admit. Perchance therein lies a certain danger, that if you spend too much time reading certain authors, especially those with thick bodies of work, you may end up just like them. But for a bunch of years, I liked the epic fantasy, the bodybuilder volumes of The Wheel of Time and The Sword of Truth, and I assumed that this is how fantasy is written, and how it’s meant to be. Until I met Paul Kearney, Mr. Brutal Frugal, who undid the spell, and shortened my descriptions of people and events in my own writing by three fourths. Thank you, Paul.
At this point, I stopped being a teenager and started developing some personality of my own. Or rather, I started settling back into my natural state. Or rather, I developed a new style, which is uniquely mine. I can’t ever be 100% sure that the likes of Pratchett or Martin have not left a subconscious note on my mind, but I do believe that my recent writing, and by that I mean the last decade or so, is rather influence-free.
I base this on the fact my writing remains consistent, at least in the eyes of those who have read my stuff, while I do read some dozen books each year. So it would seem that we’re okay in that regard. Or perhaps, the more you write, the more your own style comes to bear?
How about you?