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WHO OR WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR WRITING STYLE(S)

September 16, 2015

I’ve talked about writing styles before, but I’ve never approached it quite this way. The idea is to give a breakdown of the amalgam that is what I am as a writer so that you can see yourself and how you fit into your own style.

You’re not me, but I’ll bet you’re not a clone of one writer. Maybe by stepping back and looking at all your influences, you can see who you are and get a clearer picture of where you’re going. Who knows?

EVERY STORY IS AN ADVENTURE

I’ve said this many times not only here, but when talking about any manuscript or short story I’ve ever written. Everything I write, no matter the genre, is still an adventure. Period. It may be science fiction, icky bug, adventure/thriller or fantasy. At least those are the genres I’ve tackled so far. No matter, every one of them has been an adventure with the trappings of the specific genre.

Why?

How about Mark Twain? Clive Cussler? That’s two of the biggies. They, among others took me on thrilling adventures, one from the classical era and one still cranking them out today. Those lifelong influences embedded that sense of adventure into everything I write. It’s part of my storytelling DNA.

B-MOVIE NIRVANA

I still joke that good icky bug is that half the characters get eaten, they drop the f-bomb liberally and there’s lots of sex that has nothing to do with the plot.

Okay, there really are some B-monster movies like that, but there are plenty of outstanding B-movie classics that I just die for when they show on TV. They’re the ones that you’d find in the dingy corner of the horror rack at the now defunct video stores, usually hidden amongst all the slasher gore movies that are so popular with young adults. Yuck!

I’ve been a huge B-move fan since I was a little kid. My two icky bug novels are inspired and in the spirit of the good B-movie monster movies of the past and (a few) from the present. The only difference is that there isn’t any sex that has nothing to do with the plot!

YEAH, I ROLLED DICE WITH THE BEST OF THEM

When it comes to fantasy, there have only been a few I ever liked, both past and present. Why? Ahem, how about when half the heroes (not just side characters) die as in a certain popular series right now that is on HBO? Not for me. How about extremely wordy tomes where nothing happens for a hundred pages, literally (I’m not kidding). How about an extremely popular movie series based on a book that was fantastic but the actual books, which I forced myself to read back in 1969, were awful to get through? I couldn’t figure out why until now. They were omniscient! Then there were the character driven stories or intrigue stories that didn’t have enough action.

There were a few exceptions like Andre Norton and a few other authors I can’t remember, their names faded with decades. I can’t say I struck fantasy off my reading lists, but I was turned off enough by the genre that even though I loved the covers, I was quite often disappointed with the contents.

Then a weird game called D&D came along and things changed.

I rolled the dice and loved it! From there, a few authors came along with good plot-driven novels like R.A. Salvatore. However, I go back to the beginning of this section where I delved into the same old crap, the reason I still don’t like most fantasy.

There was one other exception that I like to call a mashup, though it was actually termed urban fantasy. It was a series I read in the 90’s about a guy who uses computers and computer logic to cross back and forth into a fantasy world. It wasn’t half bad.

As a result, after a few decades of rolling dice, switching to single player computer games, then adding in my “always an adventure” style, plus prodding from my wife to write fantasy, I started the Meleena’s Adventures series. I emphasize adventures, of course.

SHORT CHAPTERS

I started like a lot of writers, and wrote long chapters with multiple scenes. Sometimes way too many scenes. About ten years ago, I learned some “rule” at one of the Las Vegas Writer’s Conferences that you should only have three to five scene changes per chapter. Why? It made the story too disjointed. However, over time, that reasoning has faded like a lot of other things. The same for head-hopping, which was given the go-ahead a few years ago at one of the Romance Writer’s of America conferences. Once word got out about that, authors went nuts and every time I picked a book up, I saw head-hopping. It still drives me nuts. I hate it! Aaagh!

On to my point. I’m a stickler for rhythm and flow. I don’t like long paragraphs, long sentences or long chapters. I don’t like to be tortured when I’m reading and I also like to read during commercials.

Along came James Patterson. Unfortunately, despite being one publishing son-of-a-gun, he tends to write a lot in first-person, which I hate. However, the one thing he does right is he doesn’t write scenes. Instead, he makes every scene a chapter. As a result, his books might have eighty to over a hundred chapters. That makes the story move faster.

I’ve done that with Meleena’s Adventures.

As for my other novels, I have longer chapters, but with relatively short scenes because I like to write the same way I like to read. Those scenes may change to short chapters in future novels. We’ll see.

Thank you James Patterson.

INFLUENCES

We all have influences. Who are yours? Do you even know, or will you have to step back and think hard? Maybe you don’t even realize that one person is responsible for how you lay it all down.

You might be surprised.

Happy writing!

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