Tag Archives: writers

Authors Answer 134 – Are Authors Organised?

Are authors organised? Many authors take notes, but not all do. Some authors have colour-coded pens, post-it notes, and different notebooks for different things. Some use paper, some use computer spreadsheets. Everyone has their own way. This week, we’re talking about how we organise our notes.

Question 134 – How do you organise your notes?

Beth Aman

For my first novel, I had a spiral notebook that held everything – all my plot ideas, scenes, characters, sketches.  For actual plotting, however, I used 3×5 notecards.  Each one had a major plot point on it, and I lined them all up on a wall in my room.  Then I could add other notecards underneath with further explanations or questions, and I could easily re-arrange my plot points.  It was a great visual, and I liked it better having it up on a wall instead of having it on a computer screen.  Now, I’ve started using a Google Doc for all my notes, because I can access that from my phone, and it’s simpler than using a notebook.  But sometimes, my notes still end up scribbled on the nearest scrap of paper/ napkin/ receipt, and hopefully they make it into my Google Doc at some point.

C E Aylett

Various ways – I start with mind mapping, just to get the main ideas down quickly. That could be plot ideas, or characterisation, background, or themes. I then expand on those notes within yWriter project and scene notes. For research, I use Evernote, mostly, because it’s so easy to organise bookmarked web pages, but also I make notes with yWriter and link to webpages or Evernote notes from within that application. There are more details on these software programs, their capabilities, and how they tie into novel writing here.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

Organize?

Notes?

What are these things of which you speak?

In all seriousness though, I’m probably one of the least organized writers you’ll ever meet, and I don’t really have notes, so much as I obsessively flip through the pages of my own writing when I’ve forgotten something. It’s not a great strategy, I know, but organizing my writing has never really jived for me.

Gregory S. Close

I use the notes function on my phone to take notation and then I update those notes to Scrivener periodically.  I still have a metric ton of paper notes lying around in disarray that I have to keep track of, but I try to keep all new notes digital and (very important) backed up.

D. T. Nova

A file for each category of easily sorted information, ordered by a combination of prominence and chronology; a few for particularly important or hard-to-remember details; and a miscellaneous of for everything else.

Eric Wood

I don’t. I simply open my notebook to the next blank page and start writing the idea for a story. It is truly stream of consciousness. From there I start writing, picking out the parts sequentially, and adding in the rest as I move along the story line. Perhaps if I wrote a novel I would be more organised, but organisation is not my forte.

Paul B. Spence

Notes? What notes? Just kidding. I have folders of organized files sorted, by series: people, places, types of starships, terms, technology, races, star charts, names of starships, stages of civilization, types of travel, travel times, time dilation, backstories, additional misc. notes, deleted scenes, weapons, and lots of other stuff. I’m a junkie for notes.

I don’t do notes on plot. I figure out what general story I want to tell, and who I want to experience it. I then write the first scene with that person, then figure out where I want to go along the way. It is a very organic process. I do a lot of writing in my head.

Jean Davis

What is this organization thing you speak of? My notes are like my thoughts: Scattered. There are notes in a notebook that I try to pretend to be organized by using. These notes are usually things I should fix or questions that come up later as I write that I’ll need to tackle when editing. There are also notes in red in the MS as I type so I can go back and fix things. Then there are the notes in a separate .doc file where I keep my character and setting descriptions so they can’t get lost. So three kinds of notes all in their own places. It’s an odd system but it seems to work.

H. Anthe Davis

I have way too many notes for my own health or scatterbrained focus, and I mostly only organize them when I start working on the project (aka specific book) they’re meant for.  When they’re just in gestational idea form, it depends on what the idea is for: a story?  Then it goes in the Story Seeds file.  A plant or animal?  Then it goes in the Green Grimoire (repository of all my main-world flora and fauna info).  Something about another story world?  It will either get a note in my Non-WoM folder’s main story-seed file or a file/subfolder of its own, depending on the size of the idea.  Within my main story folder (where all the War of Memory stuff is), I have it broken down by book — Early Books folder for 1-3 with the master files and any notes on tweaks or rewrites, then folders for Books 4-6 with all the story-threads info, outlines et cetera, plus stray files of general information.  Plus lunar calendars, character history files, transcripts of discussions with my betas, lists of possible titles, the full-series timeline…  I guess what I mean is that it’s not very organized — certainly not in some sort of story-organization program — but I still know where to find anything, and if I can’t, I use a full-text file-search program to locate it.  Works for me!

Elizabeth Rhodes

Notes? Organize? Hah!

In seriousness, I use a program called FreeMind to keep details straight and help me brainstorm ideas before the outline phase. The outline itself is a simple Word document, but I’ve been experimenting with a new method here. While before I’d make a bulleted list for each chapter and a quick summary of each scene, I’m taking a much simpler approach and trying the ever-popular snowflake method.

Jay Dee Archer

I like taking notes. Unfortunately, I’ve taken notes in some random notebooks in the past, and mixed them up with other notes, including writing practice for Japanese! But I have some dedicated notebooks for various aspects of my writing. I have a character notebook, a plot outline notebook, and a folder filled with hand-drawn maps. I’ve also started one with sketches for concept art. I have notebooks specifically for Ariadne, and a separate notebook for other story ideas. I’ve considered using something on my computer, but I feel that it’s safer on paper and easily accessible that way.

How About You?

Are you an author? How do you organise your notes? Or do you even keep notes? Let us know in the comments section below.

Authors Answer 117 – Difficult and Easy Scenes to Write

Writing isn’t always easy. Of course, writing isn’t easy! There are some aspects that are more difficult than others, but it really depends on the author. Some people have a talent for writing action, while others do really well with dialogue. So, what do we find easy and difficult to write?

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 117 – What kind of scenes do you find the easiest and most difficult to write?

Eric Wood

The scenes I most enjoy writing are those from a child’s perspective. Perhaps because I have 2 of my own. Perhaps because I’m more like them than I can admit. The scenes I find most difficult to write tend to be ones about violence and death. Because of that I don’t typically include those in my writings. Naturally you won’t find those on my blog or in my children’s stories. I have written a few violent short stories, but I never shared them so I don’t really know what others think. I just feel it’s not my strong suit because I don’t like it.

C E Aylett

Ooooh, you’re really making me think with this one! Um… I’m pretty good with conflict of emotion scenes, and especially with dialogue. What I’m not so good at are action scenes. Or more accurately, fight scenes. I have the utmost respect for authors who can write huge or epic battle scenes. I can just imagine them with a full board of little plastic figures in a bedroom or attic that they move around so they don’t lose track of who is where and what everyone is doing.

D. T. Nova

Easiest: action that has an excuse for not being entirely realistic. (Though incorporating realistic consequences into fantastic scenes also comes fairly naturally.)

Most difficult: scenes that require substantial description but still need fast pacing.

Linda G. Hill

Fight scenes! It’s not that I don’t know how to fight. I have a brown belt in Shotokan Karate. It’s just all those body parts moving around – I never know how much detail is too much.

Jean Davis

The easiest for me is a scene where characters are conversing. When we get to scenes where lots of description is necessary to flesh out the setting, I’m not in my happy place and writing is slow going.

Elizabeth Rhodes

Scenes that are heavy on dialogue come easiest to me. I can focus on what characters say, maybe add a few hand gestures, and move on. Scenes that rely on heavy emotion, such as scenes where someone’s dying or getting married (or maybe both?) are hardest for me because I struggle with portraying emotion convincingly in stories.

Gregory S. Close

Fight scenes are both easy and difficult – action scenes are exciting and generally move quickly, so the words pop out fast.  Then, in the editing stage, you have to worry about repetitive word use and phrasing.  Swords swing, scythe, slice, chop and parry a lot in a battle but you have to use the terminology sparingly to avoid repetition.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

This might sound strange, but I find the easiest scenes for me to write are the emotionally loaded ones. Sex scenes, death scenes, anything that’s torturous or horrifying, or anything that is accompanied by a hammering heart and a racing mind. If it’s a situation that would make you forget the world, or make you want to die, I find it not only easy, but fun to write.  I feel like that stuff comes to me naturally, maybe because my own mind is always racing, finding the dramatic in every moment.

As for the most difficult? I feel like I’ve changed my mind on this particular question a few times, but at the moment I’m going to go ahead and say action scenes. I find anything action-heavy (fight scenes, big battles in particular) to be extremely difficult to put into words. I can see everything happening in my head, like a movie scene, but trying to actually formulate the words to describe it in a way that doesn’t sound watered down is very difficult for me. I’ve written fight scenes that I imagined as these wonderfully amazing waltzes, and then when I go back to read them over they sound like the characters are just stomping around each other in clumsy circles. I’m not entirely sure I’ll ever get the hang of those scenes.

Paul B. Spence

The easiest scenes for me to write? Conversations and fight scenes. Conversations are easy, and should be for any author. You sit your characters down and have a good chat. Fight scenes, well, I know how to handle myself. I’ve been trained in western martial arts, and I’ve practiced for decades. I have also been in street fights, bar fights, knife fights, gun fights, you name it. It doesn’t always apply to science fiction, but much of it does, or at least, I make it work.

The most difficult scenes for me are love scenes. I hate reading love scenes in books. I think such things should be private. It feels like I’m writing porn. Sigh. I’m not a prude or opposed to sex, the gods know I love it myself, I just don’t like to share it. However, sex is a natural part of being alive, so I strive to write the scenes into my stories because it makes them more complete.

H. Anthe Davis

I noted this previously, but I can’t do romance, and I definitely can’t write sex scenes.  I can do horrible awful violent things to my characters, but once they take their clothes off, I just draw the curtains on them; I don’t want to deal with it.  I probably should work on it more, but I’m much like my protagonist, Cob, who doesn’t see any reason why anyone should ever be naked.  On the other side of the coin, I find banter very easy to write — whether it’s two people or a whole group.  I have to cut down my banter sections considerably any time I edit, because otherwise my characters will just snark at each other for a dozen pages a pop.

Cyrus Keith

The easy scenes are the action sequences: Fight scenes, chase scenes, scenes where things are happening. The hard ones are the introspective scenes where a character reveals himself to himself. Action can get boggy if one isn’t careful, and revealing the right thought at the right time makes the difference between being brilliant, and being boring. And I can’t stand being bored.

Beth Aman

I love writing dialogue, so scenes with conversations are easy for me. I also really like writing emotionally tense scenes, or scenes with conflict. I have a hard time writing if there’s no tension in the story.  I also struggle to write descriptions and fight scenes – so many details, so little time.

Jay Dee Archer

The scenes that I find that are easiest and most difficult to write are both emotional. However, it really depends on the emotion. The easiest scenes are those that have very strong emotions, including arguments, fights, and very intense feelings. Except for romance, that is. I find romantic scenes and love scenes the most awkward and difficult to write. Good thing I don’t write romance! I just love to write the scenes that contain a lot of tension or violence. They tend to be more exciting to read, as well.

How about you?

If you’re an author, what kind of scenes do you find easy and difficult to write? If you’re a reader, what scenes do you find easy or difficult to read? Let us know in the comments section.

Authors Answer 109 – Seasonal Writing

Winter is coming. I’m not talking about A Game of Thrones. The seasons are changing. Weather and seasons can affect what people do and how they do them. But can seasons affect writing? That’s what we talk about this time.

img_3296Question 109: How do seasons and weather affect your writing?

H. Anthe Davis

I’ve spent the majority of my series in either autumn or winter (mostly winter now), so it’s not so much that the seasons affect my writing as that my writing affects my perceived season.  I live in the desert, okay, so it’s never actually winter here — not as I knew it when I lived in New England — but the story has kept New England-style winter trapped in my head for several years now, to the point that I actually forgot what season it was while I was talking to my boss once in October.  I’ve gotten seasonally displaced like that a few times, just in my mind — I don’t walk around in winter clothes in July or anything.  But if you asked me what season it was off-the-cuff, while I was distracted, I might blurt that out no matter the month.

C E Aylett

Massively, actually. I get most of my writing done in winter. I live in a really rural area, jobs are seasonal, and not a great deal happens in the darker months because most people live out in country lanes and don’t want to drive 10kms to get to a bar (which they can’t guarantee will even be open). And it’s just too cosy in front of the wood burners! But I love it. When I get fixed on a project it’s all I want to do. Plus no one nags me to get out and get some sunlight as it rains so much and so heavily, so I’m practically hibernated.

In the summer I get nothing done on writing projects. The world and his wife arrive to their holiday homes, family and friends come to visit, there’s an event going on every other day and a million invites to dinner. Not least, the kids are off school for a whole two months — ten weeks some years! I get quite grrrowly that I can’t write, even though it’s something I should anticipate by now. I keep up with my editorial commitments at The Colored Lens, though.

I should have a ‘Beware of the Writer’ sign up in my front window, and a scalped crocodile’s skull to back it up. Basically, for the safety of the public, I need a camper van so I can drive off somewhere quiet. I’m working on that plan. Seriously.

Beth Aman

It depends.  Sometimes, summer or Christmas break means I have tons of time (and motivation) to write.  Other times they seem to mess me up.  Really, it just comes down to me being committed to my story and making time to write.  Or my story being loud enough in my head that I have to write it whether I’ve made time or not.

D. T. Nova

I definitely write better in the summer, and think that whoever decided that NaNoWriMo should be November (which is often the most stressful month) made a mistake.

Despite barely being able to see light from outside from where I write, I still write better when it’s sunny, though there’s no impact if it’s just cloudy or raining for the day. Extended periods without sunlight are what weaken my ability to get motivated.

Eric Wood

The seasons don’t really affect my writing. Other than I might write more in the winter when it’s cold and dark.

Jean Davis

In the few weeks of spring and summer when the weather is nice, I just want to be outside. That means I don’t get much writing done. But as far as the dark of winter or rainy days, weather doesn’t affect me. My writing room doesn’t have windows so it’s always comfortable, sunny creative time in here.

Elizabeth Rhodes

They honestly don’t.  When I was an active participant in NaNo I could really get in to the spirit around autumn.  Now, I can procrastinate all year long.

Paul B. Spence

In oh so many ways. Since I’ve broken most of the bones of the bones in my body more than once each… rainy weather and cold seasons are not my friends. Also, as an archaeologist, I often spend nice days outside working. You can see how this would make writing difficult sometimes.

Cyrus Keith

Well, that’s a hard one to answer, to be honest. I might think that summer gives me a little more freedom to do outdoor things with the family. But once I’m in the Zone, that’s pretty much it, no matter what it’s doing outside.

Gregory S. Close

I think the weather can affect my mood in good or bad ways, which can then have an impact on the style or content of writing.  I wrote a lot of winter scenes while buried under a snowstorm in Boston, but then again – also wrote a lot of the same while living on a tropical island under swaying palm trees.  The experience of the seasons and climates is definitely a plus, though.  Although a lot of writing comes strictly from imagination, having direct experience with tropical storms or blizzards or tornados does hep describe them all with a little added nuance and realism.

Jay Dee Archer

When I lived in Japan, the seasons definitely affected how I wrote. When it was winter, thanks to the poor insulation in typical Japanese apartments, I tended not to write much at all. When I write, I want to be comfortable. I need to be at a comfortable temperature, and I can’t concentrate on writing when I’m cold. I’m able to do a lot more in other seasons. Now that I’m in Canada, and it’s warm inside in winter, the effect should be a lot less.  The main difference is how much privacy I can get. In summer, my daughter’s off from school, so she’s around a lot more.

How about you?

If you write, how do the seasons affect you? If you read, do you read more or less in different seasons or weather? Let us know in the comments below.

 

Authors Answer 107 – Our Works in Progress

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a bit more than half over, so it’s a good time to talk about what we’re writing. Some of us are participating in NaNoWriMo, but many of us have our hands full with other works in progress. This week, we talk about what we’re working on.

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 107: What are you working on now? Any works in progress?

Beth Aman

I’m working on getting my high fantasy published, (I’m in the pits of query letters) and I’m about to start writing a contemporary about an extraordinary bookstore, which is for NaNoWriMo.

Jean Davis

We are just over halfway through NaNoWriMo and I have so many works in progress. I’m currently attempting to focus on finishing a YA sci-fi novel, along with book four of The Narvan, a couple short stories, and rewriting a silly fantasy novel from years ago that is in desperate need of a middle.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

I have several things going on at once right now because I have little-to-no focus. I’m editing Book One of “The Other World“, while writing the first draft of Book Two. I’m also writing a companion novel to “Nowhere to Hide” tentatively titled “Nowhere to Run“. Also I’m still working on my erotic shorts – under a pen name – and I had this idea for a compilation book that I’m keeping secret for now.

H. Anthe Davis

Currently I’m waiting on final beta feedback, final review and cover art for my 4th book, The Bloodied Army.  By the time you read this, I should also be busy writing the rough draft of the 5th book, which I think will be titled The Drowning Dark — but don’t take that as permanent, I’m still considering my options.

Eric Wood

While I don’t really have a work in progress, I do have several ideas on paper waiting for me to get to them. Fortunately, they’re waiting patiently. I think the story I have “in the works” that I like best though is one about a group of bats who lose their home to deforestation and find refuge in a library.

D. T. Nova

Still working on the one I’ve mentioned before. (Progress has slowed due to outside sources of stress and anxiety making “write every day” no longer remotely practical. At least one of the worst sources of that will be over by the time this answer is posted.)

Project Quintessence, when I finally get satisfied enough with it to publish, will be a young adult science fantasy novel. In a world much like ours, the laws of physics change when a young woman from a fantasy world arrives; and the first people she meets join her in creating and piloting a series of aether-powered mecha, in an attempt to have some influence over what else changes because of her presence.

Paul B. Spence

I actually have three works in progress: a sequel in my series, a split-off series, and a new book only sort of related.

C E Aylett

I’ve just started revising a project that started over a decade ago. I wrote out a messy first draft during several Nanowrimos but never went back to it for fear of not —as a novice writer — doing it justice. It’s a story set in London amid the rise of rave and ecstasy culture in club land:

Sixteen year old Stella needs a job and a place to live. She walked out of her parents’ house after a row with her dad. She’d rather starve than grovel and go back to that snidy twit and her alcoholic mother. Her friends’ parents think she’s a troublemaker and the only person who can help her is dreadlocked pot dealer Malo, who she is smitten with, but he’ll only let her stay at his squat if she agrees to pedal his wares.

Determined to find herself a decent job, quit the dealing and prove to her father he’s got her all wrong, Stella finds herself caught between a world whose opportunities for the young depend on what side of the tracks you roll along — preferably gold plated ones — and a dangerous criminal underworld that doesn’t want to relinquish its grip.

In a bid to save Malo from having his legs broken, she claims responsibility for his drug debts but flees to London to escape the dealers and possibility of imprisonment. Despite her best efforts to get her head down and on with her work, the capital is already flooded with MDMA and little pills of pleasure are literally a licence to print money. They even have dollar signs stamped on some of them!

In the midst of one of the biggest youth music movements of the twentieth century, Stella has one tough choice to make: stay on the straight and narrow with a job she hates, scratching around for pennies to pay off her debts, or cash in, ride the rave wave, doing what she loves best — partying — and maybe find true love along the way.

Now that my writing and editing skills are up to measure, I’m determined to tackle it and make it into the story I’ve always envisioned it to be. It still won’t leave me alone, so I know I have to see it through to the end. But it’s now become three books instead of one (the above is a rough synopsis of the whole three projects), which makes it a little easier to get my head around. Each will work as a standalone story but still with an overarching plot running through all three. There’s a lot of research to do, which is daunting. The story starts right at the end of the 1980s, before the internet really existed. It’s hard to find stuff online, especially when it comes to laws from back then. I’ve got a lot of criminal activity going on — obviously — and it needs to sound authentic and gritty, not caricature. But hey-ho, such is the writing life, eh?

Aside from my own novels, I’m also still working on my online classes at Skillshare. But that’s something I expect will be ongoing for many years. I love editing and teaching workshops as much as I enjoy writing my own stuff.

Linda G. Hill

There’s a loaded question. First, I started a NaNoWriMo project at the beginning of this month. With any luck it will be in the Literary genre when it’s finished. Second, I’m working on editing the first two books and writing the third of my, up to now, three part series, “The Great Dagmaru,” a Gothic paranormal romance, about a stage magician who is an incubus. Third, I’m working on a Gothic horror novel with a working title, “Gargoyle.” Fourth, I’m putting together a memoir about parenting my Deaf son as a hearing parent. The title of that will be, “Don’t Talk with your Hands Full.” Back to work!!

Gregory S. Close

This is depressing, because my works in progress haven’t changed in about 2 years.  I’m still trying to get my science fiction/fantasy novel GREYSPACE finished/launched (near miss with a publisher, huge miss with Kickstarter) and making slow progress on the sequel to IN SIEGE OF DAYLIGHT (the cheerily titled END OF DREAMS).

Cyrus Keith

My current work is tentatively titled “Hush Little Baby,” a contemporary adult urban fantasy about Otherkin and skin-walkers. My lead character is a psychotic homeless woman. It’s requiring more research, of course. Less particle physics, and more neurophysiology. When I take a bite, it’s a big one. 😉

Elizabeth Rhodes

I’m honestly having a hard time working on any one project right now. Jasper’s sequel is on the backburner, but I’m working on a few short stories at a few-paragraphs-at-a-time pace. I’m also waiting for responses from magazines about other stories I sent out.

Jay Dee Archer

NaNoWriMo gave me a great excuse to continue working on Journey to Ariadne, which is a web serial, not a novel. However, life got in the way (that is, work got busy) and I haven’t done much at all. The next two weeks are a lot freer for me, so I hope to at least salvage a 40% complete for NaNoWriMo. But we’ll see.

Journey to Ariadne is a prequel to my debut novel, which is tentatively titled Knights of Ariadne. In the prequel, a mission to send colonists to the planet Ariadne in the Beta Comae Berenices system has a few difficulties to get off the ground. Of course, they are successful, as the novel takes place on that world. In Knights of Ariadne, we explore the new world, following a group of children who were among the first born on the planet. The environment has had an unusual effect on their development, though. This science fiction novel has an element of fantasy, and is set to be the first installment of an entire series of novels.

I have a second work in progress about a terminally ill man who’s aiming to complete a simple bucket list: visit every planet in the Solar System before he dies. It’s a mix of hard sci-fi and thriller, and will be available as a series of novellas.

How about you?

If you’re an author, what are you working on? Let us know in the comments below. If you have further information, links would be welcome!

Authors Answer 103 – Top Influencing Books

Authors have many influences, and it’s something we’ve talked about before. However, we never did focus on the books themselves. Authors tend to also be avid readers, and a lot of the books we read will influence us, even if it’s subconsciously. But which ones have the strongest influence on our writing and other areas?

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 103 – What do you consider to be the book that has influenced you the most?

H. Anthe Davis

I can’t point to any book that has influenced me sufficiently for this.  If I had to point at anything at all, it would be an anime series — Revolutionary Girl Utena — which fascinated me during my formative teen years and continues to help me get past some of my mental hang-ups.  No books, though; they’re all just part of the big past pile.

Jean Davis

Goodness, there are so many, and the influence factor depends on what genre I happen to be writing at the time. I’d have to say that each of my novels was influenced by a different book I’ve read.  But “The” book? I’m going to stand by Watership Down as it was one of the first books I read growing up that sucked me into a different world and showed me how emotions can hit a reader.

Beth Aman

Probably the Eragon series, simply because reading it gave me the courage and inspiration to get through the rough draft of my first novel.  I was a homeschooled teenager writing my own high-fantasy book, and I felt like I could relate so much to Christopher Paolini.  That series helped me realize that maybe being a writer wasn’t impossible.  Not to mention, I loved the dragons, the characters, and the world.  It’s not a flawless series, but it’s pretty great.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

There are tons of books that have influenced my writing and even my life in general, but the one that probably influenced me the most is “Invitation to the Game” by Monica Hughes. I’ve brought up this book before, but it’s a story about some recent school graduates surviving a dreary dystopian future by dedicating their lives to a strange and mysterious underground virtual “Game”. It’s one of the first novels I ever read (that wasn’t a “Babysitter’s Club” book), and I originally bought it because the summary sounded very similar to a set of foolish stories that my best friend and I were writing.

It turned out to be nothing like our stories, but I fell in love with it none-the-less. I loved the variety of the characters, the familiarity of the narrator’s voice, and the whole idea of this future world where mankind has essentially destroyed it’s own capability to move forward. It was strange and different and it opened my eyes to a different kind of storytelling at a young age. I’ve spent my writing career since then trying to create something of my own that I feel is just as powerful and wonderful.

C E Aylett

Depends in what way you mean. I bought a GCSE text book that influenced me to get my head around French grammar!

But seriously, if you mean influenced or inspired me to take up writing – none. That is purely a need to express myself through an art form.

If you mean influenced my life generally, I still don’t think there’s any one book I could pinpoint. I always used to read for fun  –  which I think is a reason often overlooked or frowned upon in some quarters (like education). As I’ve got older I read a little more on the literary end.

You know how you get some people who read Huckleberry Finn or One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and something resonated so deeply with them it moulded a part of their identity in some way as they were moving into and through early adulthood? Yeah, well, I’ve never been one of those. He-he.

When it comes to influencing my actual writing, I think I’ve mentioned before that I dip into Girl With a Pearl Earring often for learning technique, though I’m certainly not trying to emulate my stories to be like Tracy Chevalier’s. More like some weird concoction of Irvine Welsh, Jilly Cooper and Chevalier.

Eric Wood

I can’t say there has been one that has influenced me personally. However, a few books have really influenced my writing. The Book Thief and The Messenger (both by Zusak) opened my eyes to using different (unlikely) characters, different points of view. Terry Brook’s writing style helped me change from telling the story to showing the story.

Gregory S. Close

I don’t really know, because the influence isn’t really conscious.  Obviously, for someone my age, Lord of the Rings and Narnia were a huge influence in my childhood.  A Wizard of Earthsea made magic feel real, with real consequences.  Thomas Covenant sort of shattered my expectations of what fantasy could be.  The Saga of Pliocene Exiles showed me a lot about a multi-POV epic and genre-blending (and research, by the Pits, holy freakin’ research).  Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett – how to laugh while still telling a good story.  Harry Potter – it reminded me how important whimsy can be, even in a serious story.  A Song of Ice & Fire – how brutal you can be with your characters, how gritty your reality could be, and how I enjoyed reading it but didn’t want to go quite that far with my own writing.  Riyria for how you can tell a deceptively deep story with engaging characters and keep the plot moving swift and sure.  Brood of Bones and Tears of Rage for how good Indie Fantasy and writing can be, and The Awakening series on the (more) SciFi side of things.

And then, after thinking through all that, it was probably Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy (and Beyond) that really first influenced me as a writer.

Paul B. Spence

Dear gods, how do I answer that? I suppose I would go with The Forever War by Joe Haldeman. I really like the gritty realism and the view of how the culture of the Earth changes over time. I read it many times in my youth, and still re-read it every year or so. Really anything by Heinlein, Norton, Lovecraft…

D. T. Nova

I really don’t know. I’ve been influenced by many books, but I’m not sure I can single one out as definitely more of an influence than others. Possibly Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land, but there’s also a good chance I could be overlooking something I read at a much younger age.

Elizabeth Rhodes

This is a tough one. I don’t think I honestly have an answer to this one. I’m influenced by various authors (Asimov, Bradbury, Slattery, Martin) and their styles, but there’s no one book that I can pin down as a major influence.

Linda G. Hill

Wow. Um… There are so many. But if I had to pick one, it would have to be The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice. The depth of emotion she put into the relationship between Lestat and Nicki is unparalleled.

Cyrus Keith

I know it sounds pat, because I’m sure so many people say this, but I have to be honest. The book that has influenced me the most is the Bible.

In 1985, I came to the end of myself. And when you’re staring at the razor against your wrist, believe me, you’re at the end of something. I was in actuality within minutes of ending my life. But God intervened in such a real way, I had no choice but to believe. Like, He really saved my life. And the debt I owed to the one who saved me made me want to read more about how to be like him. I started to see the Bible as a book of promises, not a book of rules. And it’s been the most profound influence on me since then.

Jay Dee Archer

I think in some way, every book I’ve read has influenced me. However, there are some that have influenced me in a major way. The one that set me on the course of worldbuilding and fantasy was The Hobbit. I absolutely loved the fact that it had a map, and I couldn’t get enough of it. It strongly influenced my desire to write fantasy (even though I’m writing science fiction) and use maps. I have drawn some very detailed maps for Ariadne, and I thank The Hobbit for that.

However, I would also say that Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series has influenced my desire to write about a human colony on another planet, which allows me to shape a new society, but with futuristic technology. I love science fiction as well as fantasy, but I wanted a remote world where I could create a new future for humanity and throw in a twist.

How about you?

Are there any books that have influenced you, whether as a writer or a reader? Let us know in the comments below.

Authors Answer 100 – Taught By an Author

One hundred! This is the one hundredth Authors Answer. One hundred weeks of questions and answers! Some of us have been doing this for all one hundred weeks, and some of us are newer. But this is a big number to achieve. I had no idea it would go this long. So, for this week’s question, we thought about who can teach us to write better. Which author would we love to be our teacher?

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 100 – If you could take a writing class taught by any author, who would it be?

Cyrus Keith

Louis L’Amour. His descriptions were so brilliant, and he was so prolific a writer, if I could bottle just a little of what he had, I’d be better off.

C E Aylett

Probably Tracy Chevalier. Or Stephen Donaldson. But for vastly different techniques and styles. Mmm, if it came to a toss up..? Can we not have a made-up perfect mutant author instead? Pretty please?

Beth Aman

Can they be a dead author?  Then definitely C.S. Lewis.  I think he would be delightful and funny and down-to-earth.  I love the voice in his writing, so I’d love to get to meet him.  If it can’t be a dead author, then maybe Ally Carter, because I’ve met her and she’s wonderful.  Also she’s funny and writes hilarious but also amazing books.

Linda G. Hill

Stephen King!!! Without a doubt. He’s my sempai.

H. Anthe Davis

I would attend a class by Robin Hobb, just to learn more about how she makes normal day-to-day events in characters’ lives so engaging.  I know it’s not something everyone likes, but I always find myself fascinated by the simple details of characters’ work and personal interactions before the main story kicks in.  I’m very much an action-oriented writer, though I have done a bit of ‘rural downtime’, I suppose you could call it.  I just feel like I could do it better, and I think it would be valuable to learn from her.

Jean Davis

If George RR Martin had the time, which is a hilarious thought with all he has going on, I would love to hear what he has to say about writing fiction.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

Honestly, I’m not quite sure how to answer this question because, even though there are authors I love and admire, they all also have quirks and traits that I wouldn’t want to learn. Do you know what I mean? For instance, I love George R.R. Martin, but his penchant for telling every moment of a character’s backstory only to kill them off…yeah, I don’t want any of that.

If I had to choose one, I suppose I’d probably choose Stephen King, simply because he comes up with some grotesque stories, and I love that kind of thing.

Gregory S. Close

Tad Williams.

Eric Wood

I would want to take one by Markus Zusak. I love his writing style. Also, Sheree Fitch has become one of my favorite children’s authors over the last year. If you haven’t read “Monkeys in My Kitchen” I highly recommend it!

Elizabeth Rhodes

I would love a writing class taught by Asimov. I’ve always been a fan of his style but don’t have the language to describe it properly. Bonus points if it includes a lesson on writing robots.

D. T. Nova

Cassandra Clare. Her writing includes excellent examples of many of the things that I most want to improve at, and she writes for roughly the same demographic I hope to reach.

Paul B. Spence

Kipling.

Jay Dee Archer

As someone who loves worldbuilding, I’d want an author who has done some amazing worldbuilding to teach me. I haven’t read Brandon Sanderson, so I can’t say him yet. However, I’d love to hear about how Steven Erikson co-created Malazan. With his detailed world, he also includes many different cultures and a long history. I’d enjoy learning how he created them.

How about you?

If you could choose any author to be your writing teacher, who would you choose? Let us know in the comments below.

What Would You Ask an Author?

Authors Answer has been going strong for eighty-three weeks now without a single week off. That’s eighty-three questions. By the end of this month, we’ll be at eighty-six. Not so far from a hundred!

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveBut now is your chance to ask the authors some questions. If you could ask an author any question, what would it be? This is not for a specific author, but for authors in general. Keep in mind that the simple, obvious questions have already been asked. Think of something unique and creative. You can ask your question (or questions) in the comments below, and you’ll see the answers starting after June. I will also be linking back to your blog, if you have one.

So, what are you waiting for? Ask some questions!