Sunday, March 13, 2011

Writing Role Models & Influences

I have written action stories since I was a kid. Back in grade school, most of the stuff was what could fairly be termed fan-fic (I wrote a lot of G.I. JOE adventures) I also began my own "secondary world" epic fantasy. I'd like to think that for someone supremely influenced by J.R.R.Tolkien, I had some pretty cool original ideas.

Twenty five years down the road and a lot more reading under my belt, seems like a lot of other writers have already developed some of those very same ideas. I was going to have a young man be the veritable saviour of an epic worldwide struggle, I came to find that was very similar to Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. I was going to have a militaristic city state of werewolves in the mix, similar now to James Enge's The Wolf Age. I had big plans for a cursed warlord/sorcerer to stalk the land waiting for the endtime so incredibly akin to Karl Edward Wagner's Kane (I even wrote a short prequel on how he became cursed for his hubris).


As much as I loved those ideas, I don't know if or when I will ever work on them...

But then again...

We all have our influences, the same as anyone else. I have read Scott Oden, Lion of Cairo, say that his three biggest influences are Tolkien, Robert E. Howard and Karl Edward Wagner.

Guess what = they are mine too.

But is there any real danger of us writing close to the same thing? No, there is isn't.
Because we all draw on our own experiences in life, our own worldview, our own strengths and weakness's. We are all different.
If any two of us set out to write the exact same story it would still turn out quite different and likewise appeal to different readers. I read a recent post of Dean Wesley Smith where he said, (and I'm somewhat paraphrasin') - "We are not in competition with other writers-but with ourselves to write better stories."

I like that a lot-it makes me not compare myself to my influences and the seeming impossibility of catching up, recreating the foundation they have already lain, but of just learning what I can from them and improving my own craft and writing the best stories I possibly can.

Lately, I am stressing/working on my sequel to Heroes of the Fallen - Blood of Our Fathers and working at making it the best book it can possibly be-that means writing the most awesome book that I would want to read again and again.
On other fronts I have a lot of speculative short stories getting published this year - 9 so far are forthcoming and I have another 4 submitted already, saturating the spec-fic market just like my writing role model, Robert E. Howard.
I'm kinda treating the present day anthology and e-markets like the depression era markets of the pulps. Gotta get my own weird brand out there and be read.

Stay hungry my friends.



  1. I tend to be inspired by different writers for different genres, bcause I have such a wide variety of writing interests. For fantasy, it is most definitely REH, but also RA Salvatore and a few others of the "Gamer Fiction" persuasion. For suspense-thrillers, it is David Morrell, but also Don Pendleton and his followers in the Mack Bolan universe of books.

    As a writer, I probably channel elements of all of these in just about everything I write, blending them into my own "style." Now, if I could only channel their collective abilities to finish writing projects...

  2. Exactly, we all filter our influences through so many layers, including our personalitys and upbringings, and even when we were exposed to those influences. There is plenty room left for creativity even under the influence of great writers from the past.

  3. Tom-I like Salvatore a lot too. Finishing can be a struggle but its worth it.

    Thanks Charles.

  4. I agree that we all filter our influences through our own eyes/life experience. IMO, the key is to accentuate our own unique flavor.

    Tom, good luck learning to finish a story. That was my problem for a long time until I started working for a newspaper. They really helped me set and meet deadlines.

    I took a fantasy writing workshop with R.A. Salvatore once, and he was a great guy and complimented my writing. That really meant a lot to me.

  5. The more I write, the more I realize the influence you get from what you're currently reading. I never thought I would be influenced by Stephen King because I don't write horror and really don't read him much, but my wife recommended reading Under the Dome. I cruised right through it and found myself thinking of my new story in the same way I read that book. I wanted the same kinds of characters and to be able to jump from one point of view to another like King does so effortlessly. It takes effort for me, so I don't know how successful I'm being in adapting for that influence, though.
    It Just Got Interesting