Who Are Your Writing Influences?

During my No Whine, Just Champagne writing chat on Gather.com last night, we discussed our styles and who influenced us the most. I’d never really thought about it before, but if anyone influenced me, it would probably be Taylor Caldwell for two vastly different reasons. One, I like books that tell of unknown events or show history in a different light or speak of real life conspiracies, and she did that very well. Two, she had an execrable style (in one book I swear she used the word inexorable on every other page. About drove me nuts.) which taught me to pay attention to what I want to say, don’t duplicate words or effects, and write shorter books.

As fellow Nowhiner, Sia McKye wrote, “I liked some of her story premises, but damn, I swear that woman could spend 15 pages describing the turning of a leaf, or a field. sheesh. You could condense her story by 40% and not lose the story, just the extra stuff.” Amen to that. So, I have tried to tell interesting stories with an historical/conspiratorial slant, and while I do put in a bit of historical background, I do not spend pages describing leaves. Nor have I ever used the word inexorable. Okay, once as a private joke, but that’s all.

Another Nowhiner, one of the best style mimics I ever came across, posted the following piece:

I would have to say that there is nothing in life sweeter than partaking of a nice piece of cheesecake at the Broadway Deli, saying hello to the dames as they walk by, talking with my friends from the track, and reading Damon Runyon, whose style is unique among mortals.

Or Hemingway. I read him in college. He was good.

Elmore Leonard walked into my living room with a large suitcase, a gun and an attitude. “Whats up” I asked him. He didn’t answer or smile, before he shot me through the heart. Now there is some style, I thought just before I died.

Ann Tyler, invited me to her large house in Baltimore, and allowed me to sit in her parlor, while she continued her often interrupted monologue with Silky, the cat who had belonged to her first husband’s daughter’s girl friend Ramona. The third time the phone rang, it was Ramona herself, and the monologue became a dialog, from which I learned a good deal about the complex relationships among those who had inhabited this world.

See what you’re missing? You are welcome to join us any time. The group No Whine, Just Champagne meets every Thursday at 9:00 pm ET for a live chat, though the discussion continues on unlive after the chat is finished.

So, I told you my writing influence; who are yours?

8 Responses to “Who Are Your Writing Influences?”

  1. Michael Says:

    Charles Schultz!

  2. Sylvia Says:

    Hi think my influence in writing has to be Dean Koontz, Tess Gerritson and Karin Slaughter. All three are different types of writers but very good.

  3. ~Sia~ Says:

    Pat, you quoted me, lol! Influences in my writing, as I’ve said, has been poetry because of the love of the language, finding the right word to invoke a particular emotion. The rhythm of the words which can create atmosphere.

    There have been a few authors that I’ve admired for their ability to not only create solid and believable characters, but recreate or create a world and put you there. Two in particular are Roberta Gellis (Historicals Roseyln Chronicles) and Anne McCaffery (Sci-fi and her world of Pern). I like Nora Roberts for the same reason, adding that her characters feel real, especially the emotions between siblings and friends.

    It was an interesting chat last night. I can’t think of any other place that has a group like No Whine, Just Champagne, and offers live chat. Everyone can comment right then. Well there are some delays when you type in your comments and the conversation moves fast despite it’s all done with typing. I learn quite a bit, not just from you or your guests’ topic but the input of the comments.

  4. L. V. Gaudet Says:

    I’m not really sure who I could say is my writing influence. I’ve read so many books over the years (no, I won’t say that dreaded word “decades”), from so many different genres, that I really can’t say who I could attribute my writing style to. In fact, I can’t even really think of a particular author who’s style mine is similar to.

    Perhaps it is more like a patchwork quilt. You know, where you take a little of this from here, a little of that from there, and when you are done piecing it all together you may have created something entirely unique to you, for better or worse.

    I can say, however, that I have also picked up on some “do nots” from some of my favorite authors. Even our favorites sometimes (or frequently) come up with something that makes us ask, “why?” The least of which would not be some rather famous and long worded authors who just don’t know when to let a description go. I only hope I can say that I have (and am still striving to) learned from their mistakes.


  5. Donna Lea Simpson Says:

    Jane Austen: clarity, function, characterization.

  6. joylene Says:

    I remember the first time I read Marilyn French. All I could think of was “Man, I wish I could write like this.” Once I got over my depression, I started studying what it was about her work that moved me so deeply.

    The secret came later when I turned to others for their gift of story and their contrast to how Ms. French wrote. It was that variety that filled me with hope. So many of my favourite writers covered the gamut of talent. I knew then that somehow, someday, I’d fit in somewhere on that scale.

  7. Suzanne Francis Says:

    Damn! I meant to participate in that discussion, but I got sidetracked by life…

    My biggest influence is probably Madeleine L’Engle, both professionally and personally. She led an amazing life.

  8. kittypackard Says:

    I have to say that it was Jack Kerouac’s work that influenced me most growing up … although I happen to write *nothing* like him. His chaotic passion produced unforgettable, albeit imperfect, prose and it made me wish to God I could be a writer.

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