A Look Back: Influence

I believe that my writing style is affected by every different fiction author whose books I read. It's affected even more so by fantasy writers, which isn't surprising because the main genre I read and write is fantasy. In Grade One, when I was seven years old and writing stories that lasted anywhere up to 100 words, I had no particular influences. The stories I wrote were generally accounts of true events hidden (very badly) behind a creative guise.
I don't remember where all the magic in my stories came from. Maybe films and cartoons, or fairytales. But when I wrote my first "longer" story (A Whole New World, or something very similar), it seemed set in stone the kinds of stories I would be writing.

I must have started reading Harry Potter in Grade Two because that's when I wrote "A Magical World", a hilariously bad rip-off of the idea of Harry Potter, with matching 8-year-old style writing. At least it had a unique plot. I was still about nine years off being ready to attack something of Harry Potter's relative grandeur.
So when I was 8 and 9 years old, my biggest influence was J. K. Rowling. 
At 9 years old I started including ideas related to my sudden interest in language and worlds hidden within our own. Somewhere between 9 and 10 years old I tried to rewrite A Magical World. It was still terrible and I didn't quite finish it.
Fast forward to 11 and 12 years old, and I was influenced by Pirates of the Caribbean, and my friend and I co-wrote 3/4 of a story called British Pirate before we burnt out and didn't finish it.
I don't recall writing anything at 13, but at 14 and 15 I was working on Until They Unite, which wasn't terrible, but wasn't particularly good either. That seems to have been influenced by Emily Rodda's series Deltora Quest (which I read when I was about 8 or 9), what with the travelling and collecting  special items of power. I didn't finish Until They Unite, either.
Then it was this, Aundes Aura. The plot is influenced by nothing other than my imagination ad my ideas. But everything's influenced by something, right? Well, yeah, but now that influence is tucked away in the past. I burnt out all my copying until I finally had something truly of my own to work with.
And this is where I stop looking at the influences on what I write, but how I write. This is where I stop looking at plot and start looking at style, because that's where the influences have been in my writing of late. I think I was still writing Until They Unite when my friend was flicking through my copy of Eragon and said, "You write like him." I was humbled, as Eragon was what I was reading at the time. I've spent the course of Aundes Aura refining my style and phasing out elements that were holding it back.
The next influence on my style, I would like to believe, is George R. R. Martin with A Song of Ice and Fire. I've read the first book and am halfway through the second. I think the witty and well-written dialogue, dealings with the intricate plot, portrayal of characters, depiction of scenes and the breadth of the world all really stand out in this series, and these skills are what I aspire to, but in a more compact way. Maybe one day I'll be able to write longer works like his, but I'm not at that stage yet, and I'm content with my full-length novel, if not the typical length for fantasy, let alone high/epic fantasy.
The last influence I want to talk about is purely stylistic, and I think an interesting one. It's also the one that inspired me today to write this post, after this little feature cropped up in my writing again.
It's also interesting because Beowulf was a set text for Literature in Year 12, not one of my books for leisure. In Middle English, or whatever period it was originally written in, the verses didn't rhyme at the end of the lines like many do today. The lines were alliterated.
Every now and again when I'm writing, an alliteration springs forth and I have to stop and think . . . can I actually do that? Of course I can. Why not? Of course, when I revisit them in my readings, I'll have to decide whether they work or not. But for now they're not really doing any harm. Here's the example that inspired this post.

He filtered his memories over the sights before him. Black bark turned brown, bare branches burst full of autumn leaves.

So what books and authors have influenced your writing?

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Welcome to The Dark Corner of the Mind. My name is Ryan Sullivan and my aim with this blog is to help others with their own writing, as well as to make note of some of my own writing endeavours.

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