It’s hard, if not impossible, to delve into the life of an author without touching on the thing that sets them off. You have your imagination or a real life tale to tell, but something triggers your desire to write a book. Maybe you had a dream about being at a signing or read a book that made you think you could do it too. Some people are told that they should be a writer and it makes sense to them. And this is only for what makes you want to a writer. Look at what can stir a story in your mind and the list can go on forever.
Here’s one thing that I’ve noticed from my travels . . . Yes, I leave the chair from time to time because the fridge isn’t in reach. Many people talk about wanting to write a book and never getting up the courage. You’ve probably heard ‘I always wanted to write a book, but . . .’ in response to declaring your authorhood. Well, these people could be on the verge of being influenced. More than likely, they’re not going to go anywhere. No offense to them on that, but it is the truth. It’s when a person goes from ‘wanting’ to ‘doing’ that influence has begun. Again, the list goes on and on for what can set this desire off.
The influential spark is only the beginning for most authors. I say most because I’ve met a few who had that spark and then set out to write a story with no plan whatsoever. I’m not even talking the pantser style. Full no pants, no idea style that typically ends in a creature that should be taken behind the woodshed and shot. Best example I have here is someone who wanted to write an action book because he loved action movies. Flashback on the second back, list of characters was a list of movie stars, and I’m pretty sure ninja was written on the page at least 5 times. Another example is someone who rewrote ‘Ender’s Game’, so you get your blatant plagiarists here too.
So, what else needs to happen before the influential spark? You need the influential fire that contains a story that you know you must tell. It isn’t enough to want to write because without a story, you have nothing. This can stem from a game, a show, a movie, a life event, a dream, and so many other things. This is the fire that will carry you from beginning to end because you will need to retain your love of the story. It doesn’t even stop with the first influence too. Other ideas and events can feed into the story, which is easier for fiction than non-fiction. Say you’re writing a ‘Pirate Adventure’ and then you have the idea to include a little Steampunk because you read a new book. That’s a new influence on your work and maybe even your style. Perhaps you saw a cat hunting a bird in the backyard and it gives you an idea for a scene where the heroes are being stalked by a lion. This is why many authors hone their awareness because you never know what you’ll see when (if?) you leave the house.
Using myself as an example, I always wanted to write a book until I read ‘Books of Lost Swords’ by Fred Saberhagen. Then it changed to me knowing I will write a book. That was step one. After that, I let my love of Dungeons & Dragons, video games, cartoons, and movies guide me. This is kind of how Windemere came about because I would see an archetype or be inspired by something that made me want do something in my own world. I started watching anime where demons weren’t always evil, which stirred the evolution of Windemere demons. I used to read comic books, so I gravitated toward action scenes. Even a big thought like ‘the world is getting dark and pessimistic’ can be influential and drive me toward noble heroes with happy-ish endings. The truth is that I have no idea what is going to influence me as I go along.
So, what are your influences?