I've been devouring Philip K Dick recently and I came to the conclusion that he is an author I want to emulate. I like the blending of reality and fantasy and the exploring of ethical and religious themes (albeit, not from a gnostic viewpoint). He also is prolific, writing 16 (I think) novels in 5 years and many fantastic short stories. OSC would certainly fit in a similar category. And Gene Wolfe is the writer that I would dream of being, but I will not dare to feign even the slightest comparison.
Anyway, I was curious if there is a particular author that others feel most represents their writing or where they are trying to take their writing.
(Also, I thought it would be fun to see what famous/prestiged Hatrackers would be here if we all actually were).
In a perfect world where all my literary dreams come true, I'd love to be compared to Margaret Atwood. I've loved her books for years. The Blind Assassin is one of my all time favorites. Such a varied repertoire and so prolific.
I would love to be Neil Gaiman. I love his attitude toward life, and he creates beautiful work. He's very successful, yes, and who wouldn't want that, but I hope that if I should ever become as successful as him, I would be able to be as content as he seems to be. I love the way he puts words together, even his prose sounds poetic, and I love his imagination. I think a lot of times I feel limited (by myself mostly!) and blocked in a way, and worried. He seems so chill. I mean, he's human and I'm sure he has his moments. But I can't help but think that his attitude makes it possible for him to write beautiful words (even the dark scary ones). I'd like to work on that part of myself.
I have not read any of his works yet, but Jeffrey A. Carver represents the type of writer I would want to be if I get published. He is down to Earth and took time to email me back after I read his writing guides.
It seems before I came across his page, many other SF authors didn't give much time time new authors. So hearing back from him really pushed me over the edge to take on writing.
If I can inspire someone else to write, then I will consider my career a success.
I want to use/invent slang like Scott Westerfeld, write beautiful sentences like Shannon Hale, create fully-realized space settings like Elizabeth Moon, write smart like Ursula Le Guin, be funny and approachable like our own Jamie Ford, and create lore and history and backstory like Lloyd Alexander. Among others. I wouldn't mind a little OSC and JKRowling thrown in for good measure.
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Right off the bat I would have to say three I would like to be like.
The first and for the longest time, is Isaac Asimov. Not only for his writing but for the various genre he wrote in. He did some great mysteries. Mine would be different- at least I never heard that he did westerns but at the same time it wouldn't surprise me. And lastly his prolificness (hopefully I got the right word there)
Second I would like to be thought of as another David Weber. Great Space opera there. Not too bad at fantasy either. And I think I have subconsciously tried to write like him. So that partly answers the other question.
Thirdly its Jim Butcher. I consider him the King of UF... the one that started this --hmm not sure what to call it, I think it's gone way beyond fad. There's always been UF but it exploded after he and Laura Gillman and Rachel Caine came out with their books.
Anyway when it comes to UF I think I have also subconsciously tried to write like him at times. Which gets me into trouble with critiquers.
But who I am really like is probably neither of them. I wouldn't mind being like a combo of all three and a couple of others-including Gilman- with my own twists included.
I love most of the writers that you mention. I have been a great fan of Mc Master Bujold, Le Guin, Gaiman, Moon; but I admit I do not like the dark vision of Philip K. Dick. And is Gene WOlfe the writer who took the Arthurian tale to a parallel world existing in a different time stream? (I just checked my book shelf. The name of the novel is The Wizard Knight. I admit I found it disappointing.)
And yet being Indian I have the other problem: everything I love does not necessarily encompass the whole of me. I hope that makes sense. Because I have sent in a few flippant responses before. This one though is more honest. I really am struggling to blend the Fantasy genre with my indianness; my issues out here, my history and my upbringing. When I turn to writers in the indian languages for support I find I am tainted by my Americanness.
Having said this I did run across one writer who I do study extensively: Barry Hughart. He wrote three novels about an ancient China that never was. The first one Bridge of Birds won the World Fantasy Award. The other two are just as good. I don't know why he stopped writing. In fact I know nothing more than what I have just written about him.
But I admit he makes me think that the marriage of form from one culture and content from another is possible.
I started out reading SF with Heinlein, but as I learned more of the "how" and "why" of writing, at first I wanted to emulate Asimov. This lasted some time, but over the years I've become somewhat disillusioned with Asimov as a person (partially, but not entirely, political), and certainly I could not keep up with his level of productivity, not and lead a kind-of normal life or make money.
Eventually, looking into method and not lifestyle or politics, I turned up a comment by Frederik Pohl, about turning out four pages a day no matter what. I haven't been able to stick with either "four pages" or "a day," either---once computers came into play, I settled for five hundred words at a time, when I had the time---but it's the goal I've strived for. (Not that we see eye-to-eye politically, either...)
I would love to write like Dean Koontz. He has ways of phrasing things in fresh and original discriptions like nobody else I've ever read.
I also highly admire Jim Butcher. Every time I read one of his Dresden Files books, I feel like I'm visiting with an old friend and catching up on everything that old friend has been doing since our last visit. It's just so down-to-earth.
And Rawling is simply incredible. I'd give anything to be able to write 7 books in a series, keep track of everything going on in each book, and be able to bring it all together where it makes perfect sense as a whole.
But most of all, I want to write as myself. I want to develop my own style that will stand out and identify me like a fingerprint. Of course I hope my style will meet with the approval of my readers so future writers will be saying, "I'd give anything to write like Crystal Stevens." And isn't that what we all strive for?
I'd say the writer I've most consciously emulated is Jane Austen -- when I'm writing in third person. I modeled the narrative technique used in *The Wonderful Instrument* on Austen's use of Free Indirect Discourse. TWI even takes some of its comical inspiration from *Emma*, in which the attractive heroine's shallow world view is catastrophically upset.
In first person I'd say the writer I've most consciously copied would be the mystery writer Elizabeth Peters. She is a master of the unreliable narrator with a comically skewed view of events.
Another influence is Terry Pratchett. I like the way he populates his books with a cast of memorable, over-the-top caricatures. I have a similar sense of humor to his, so I thought my voice might be similar. When I sat down to write I found I had less of a postmodern sensibility than he. Pratchett is a master of the self-referential pastiche; he writes stories that *are* what they satirize, and whose characters implicitly break the fourth wall by being aware of the conventions of the genre (what Pratchett calls "narrative causality"). I think my stories came out different because when they started down that path, I had the feeling "Pratchett's already done this."
One reader compared my work to Mark Helprin's *A Winter's Tale*, which I can sort of see. Another suggested Peake's *Gormenghast* books, which I would have taken as a complement had it been intended as one. One reader even compared *The Wonderful Instrument* to *Gone with the Wind*, by which I think he means that he loved the ending but thought the heroine took an astonishing number of pages to work her feelings out.
Dude wrote action and war and broke every rule with run-on sentences but you could see and hear and feel what was going on. By the end of a few pages you felt exhausted because the characters were exhausted and it was gripping.
If I ever make it big, I plan to ask his estate to complete his final and unfinished work. They may say no, but that is the yardstick of how much I want to be like him.
I figure, in a few more years I will go full on emulation and see what happens. Until then, I'm merely honing my skill. It would be an insult if I tried now while in my fledgling stage.
Good question Wordcaster. You've reminded me of one of my long term goals.
Amen to Matt Leo, and pdblake. Pratchett is a freaking god. I have read so many of his books and thought "Why am I trying to write a perfect novel, when Terry Pratchett has already written it."
But I have to add Rhoald Dahl. Witches, the BFG, and Matilda are why I started writing in the first place, and his short stories for adults are a pleasure to read. The way he describes the world he is remembering, or is creating, hits my idea net every time, and I just want to live in that world for a little bit. He's just brilliant.
Jane Austen.. Gaiman...JK Rowling...Addams...Shakespeare... basically I wish I was British, and had the right to write so brilliantly.
Until then I keep plugging along... hoping for rain. ~Sheena
[This message has been edited by shimiqua (edited July 20, 2011).]
* LM Bujold for sense of character and adventure. * CJ Cherryh for scope and action and tightness. * GRR Martin for a fullness of history, made of the people in it. * Melanie Rawn for an invisible writing style. * Jack Vance for the ability to hook me over and over, and to make outrageous things sound perfectly normal in their own worlds.
Sheena, I've thought the same thing about wishing I was a British author, adding Mervyn Peake, China Mieville, Terry Pratchett, and Anthony Burgess to the list. In addition to superior command of the language (my stereotype of the day), British people just sound smarter than me when they talk -- not that that is hard to do.
I suppose Irish isn't too far off.
How about a US midwesterner (MN and MI)? Anyone of note? I'll have to carve my way.
Adding a PS here since there's been so many posts since mine.
I want to add C. E. Murphy. Another UF writer and I think she has one or two standard fantasies series too. I'm not sure where she is on that short list of writers who started the UF craze but she should be up there too. She may have had her books out first or a close second.
Anyway, I would like to be like her in one way. She is a great storyteller. I easily get lost on her world. One pro editor called me to tell me I was a natural born story teller but obviously my writing is very slow at catching up to that. Hers writing even though maybe not the best-that's not say it's mediocre- is already there.
quote: I'm curious. If a pro editor thinks you're a natural storyteller, where do you think you might take that? What's the next step for you as a writer?
I've been working on that next step for five years.
Actually there's more, some of which I'm afraid I now doubt that he was correct about.
We spent about forty minutes on the phone talking. He had read around thirty of my stories over about three year period and decided to read some over to see why I wasn't getting better. He repeated at least three times that I was a natural born storyteller and I had everything I needed except for one big thing I needed to work on. I've stated the rest of this story a couple of times around here but I did what he said to do and the next year my stories did much better.... for eight to ten of them. I sold one- an HM in a different contest-, another made an alt list that said the writing was good enough but was rejected for other reasons. Another story was almost good enough to buy, One story got a personal comment by John Joseph Adams and made HM at WotF, another story in that batch also made it to HM. but after that I've gone down hill and can't get back up. Now I can no longer get to even HM on my own, I need two groups to help. I can't get beyond "doesn't grab my attention" with JJA. Evidently he has three comments and that is his first. Well, I might have gotten to his third comment recently.
Gotten a couple comments from critiquers and one assistant editor on another site that sound like my storytelling ability is still working but as I said my writing isn't up with it.
Been working hard to get back up where I was but...
Probably more than you expected and I'm not sure if that all belongs on this thread but here it is.
1st off, I don't want to emulate anyone. There are writers I try and learn from, they (and what I love from them) are as follows:
1) George R. R. Martin. He is a master of PoV. It always amazes me (no matter which book I'm reading) how he can immediately become that character. Also, his world building skills are amazing. I love his world as much as his characters, the gritty un-PC realism that is true to similar times in our own history. That said, I do not admire his lethargy in producing the ASoIaF tomes.
2) Robert R. McCammon. He wrote my all time favorite book (to date), Boy's Life, and he too is a master of PoV. I had the pleasure of watching him get better over a series of books, and his latest fiction incorporates history, mystery and possibly some sci-fi and fantasy.
3) David Gemmell. He, like Stephen King, created great characters. Though he wrote in Omniscient, he still managed to put you into the characters. And they were "good people trying to do good things," as OSC once described it. I have every book that I could acquire of his, and have read some more than once.
4) Robert Ludlum. He was a master of plots. What his omniscient style lacked in personalization, it made up for in twists, subject-detail and pace.
5) Brandon Sanderson. He is not only very approachable as an author, he is a master of magic systems and world building. The system for the Mistborn series is one of the few I've read that made me think: "I wish I could do that."
6) Bernard Cornwell. Not only do I love his characters and diverse types of PoV, he can bring a factual historical setting to life without bogging it down. His pace is great, and I believe him all the way through.
7) Steve Perry. He is a clever plotter, fast paced, brings his worlds and characters together in a vast scope without writing 1000 page door-stoppers. His Matador series is what happens when you mix Highlander, Star Wars, Dune and Kickboxer together.
8) Kevin J. Anderson. He's very prolific, friendly, and the best kind of person. He also is a master plotter. I tore through his and Brian Herbert's Dune novels, his Saga of Seven Suns, and Terra Incognita novels with a breakneck speed. He introduced me to an epic scope in Sci-Fi. and led me to OSC. His selling techniques are to be marveled at.
9) Orson Scott Card, who taught me what I was writing, and how to begin perfecting it. We all know Scott's PoV abilities and superior plotting skills, incredible world building and voice. Most of us got here because of him. He has inspired more than a generation of writer, and with more than his books. The list of people he's helped reads like the new-authors-to-watch-out-for.
10) Robin Hobb. She is a master of character, milieu, voice, plot, magic systems and scope.
That's the shortlist. I could go on:
Ben Bova Robert Low Brian Lumley John Sandford John D. MacDonald Lawrence Block Robert Jordan (Who wrote more than the Wheel of Time) Michael Moorcock Cherie Priest Jamie Ford Harlan Ellison Thomas Harris Robert Harris Patrick Rothfuss John Brown Aliette de Bodard James Clavell C.S. Forester Robert E. Howard Edgar Rice Burroughs etc.
[This message has been edited by InarticulateBabbler (edited July 22, 2011).]
As to writers I would like to learn from that would make a long list:
those already mentioned A couple you may not have heard of because they've only done a few books. J.R.R. Tolken C.S. Lewis Dean Wesley Smith--I have learned from him already but I take all I can get. Seanan Mcguire John Levitt Dayton Ward-have learned a little from him but same as with Dean Mark del Franco Lisa Shearin Ian Douglas Anton Strout Christopher Stasheff Michael Stackpole OSC-again learned a little from his books but take all I can Glen Cook
And if anyone has read this already I changed one mistake I made. It's Dayton not Devon, Duh.
[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited July 24, 2011).]
Since this thread evolved into a "what writer do you want to write like" thread...I think at this point in my life and writing I've washed out the extraneous stuff, absorbed and incorporated what I could, and now write like myself. (I've been at this a long time.)
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Yeah, Robert -- I think most of us can fairly say we want to develop and write our in our style. I used the word emulate in the original post, which was perhaps too strong a word. Surely a writer wouldn't want to be recognized as the derivative of another, but a creator in his/her own right.
Just as most of our stories can be compared to tropes or other works, I've got to believe there are authors who (to some extent) represent each of our collective writing. If I were to list all of the authors who do things well that I want to learn from, the list would be long and still far from exhaustive.
My writing is always evolving, so who knows who I will compare it to ten, twenty years from now. Others here have been writing for much longer than me and have developed a definitive style.
Well, I realized, during my Internet Fan Fiction days, that I could parody a specific writer, or a poem, or a song lyric...I don't know that I had the skill before that point, I think it just emerged then-and-there under the pressure, such as it was.
Before that, I think I would have liked to write in the style of this writer or that...but I just couldn't manage it.
(I say "in the style of," but I don't just mean style...there's also content, or how a writer evoked the future, or provided a detailed background, or character development, and so on, and so forth...)