Sunday, May 31, 2009

What Inspires You?

The last story is done and posted. Thirty-one. One for each day - a true marathon, second only to November's manic pace.

Some are good, destined to be enlarged into books and some are... not so good; okay, they'll probably never see the light of day again.

The stories are either fantasy or sci-fi, a change from two years ago when some were set in the modern age. I'm guessing it's because I've been reading lately.

Grandmaster writer, Anne McCaffrey, once said a writer's style is based on fiction reading material. A new writer will take elements of their favourite authors and blend them into a new, personal style.

When I was younger, Anne McCaffrey was one of my idols, though I don't think I've ever written a story with dragons in it.

I've got different fav authors now, each one an inspiration and each one with different styles across a number of genres. What they have in common is they inspire me.

I'd read Marion Zimmer Bradley, Andre Norton, Patrick Tilley or Robert Heinlein and I'd have to set pen to paper; it was an imperative, an irresistible lure... like that last square of chocolate. Other writers in different genres had the same effect: Nora Roberts, Tess Gerritsen, Tami Hoag, Maggie Shayne, Dean Koontz.

Today, it's David Weber, S.L. Viehl, Rachel Caine, J.D. Robb and others. I still read all the others, but they all conspire to influence how and what I write. All manage to provoke imagination through creative use of language, of evocative imagery; to raise the question of 'what if' to another level.

Every writer needs to challenge and be challenged. For me, the story-a-day marathon and Nano does that. The May marathon in particular, because before I started my first marathon in 2004, I'd never written a short story, decided I couldn't because my focus was on much larger pieces and to write so much in so few words, I felt was beyond me.

I found I really enjoyed the work. Not just the writing, but the prompts. Some meant thinking outside the box - a significant object is an elevator; your story is set in the desert and is about vampires - or getting around historic fact - a diamond is important; your story is set in ancient times (diamonds were called 'adamas' in antiquity).

More importantly was I found I could write short stories. Some were even pretty good.

Challenge plus inspiration equals success; you don't have to be published for the equation to work, just have an open mind.

What inspires you?

1 comment:

Marina said...

Nano inspires me -- I love the cameraderie of all those people writing at the same time. I also get a kick out of reading writing "how-to" books. They get me all fired up to get stuck into some writing.

I don't know how you managed to keep up the pace for the SAD marathon. Some of your stories had me shaking my head -- in a good way! -- at your endless inventiveness. One that springs to mind is the one about the pest controllers in the library. Such a killer story from such an unlikely prompt!