Authors and Influence

I woke up this morning and checked my messages on a website which I frequent; “Figment“.  It’s a writer’s social site and, though it has it’s flaws, is certainly worth my time.

One reason that it is worth the time was exemplified this morning.  I checked those messages and saw a link to another Figment Author’s page.  A friend had sent the link, saying that I would most likely enjoy one of the books which this new author had written.  The title was “The Oubliette” by James Woolbright.

I checked out the book and, voila, one of the best written short stories on Figment popped into view.  It had many of the foibles and characteristics of my favorite authors, but the writer had given it all his own style.

And, as usual, that got me thinking…………..

Once upon a time, it might have been possible for authors to have a style entirely their own, due to the fact that they had never read any other books before.  That would have to have been a very long time ago, but it might have happened.  Today, however, while each and every writer has a unique style, practically unmistakable to anyone who knows him, the style is influenced.

Every author is influenced by those authors whose books he reads.  His style may change over a short period of time, due to the fact that he read a book with a style drastically different from his usual fare, and he took notes.

I’ve seen this first-hand, experienced it, even.  My writing is primarily influenced by four things.  Tolkien, Verne, Doyle, and my love of talking.  These things have led my style to be, as my sisters say, ‘windy’.  They are correct.  Many of my favorite authors are ‘windy’, yet it does not seem to adversely affect their writing.  It simply happens to have been a part of their style.

My style, while quite obviously my own, is affected by theirs.  It changes, upon occasion, depending on what I am reading at the time, but it invariably returns to a particular style.  This is, most likely, because, while I read a wide assortment of books, I always return to my oldest friends.  And those friends assert their influence.

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