I have been thinking about which writers have influenced my own writing style, particularly with regard to the fantasy trilogy I am about to complete. David Mitchell’s style has been quite influential on me in the past, but when it comes to fantasy writing, I’m not sure what has been really significant for me. I quite like George RR Martin’s method of writing a chapter per character – I think it helps to keep the story fresh and it’s interesting to see how the different characters view the complex world in which they live. My trilogy is written in this style, though each chapter has a unique title, rather than being named after the character whose point of view it comes from. But, since I started reading Martin’s novels long after I started writing this story, I can’t really say that this has influenced me.
I remember reading Death of an Ancient King, by Laurent Gaudé (which I have recently reviewed), when I was about halfway through writing the second part of the trilogy, and loving the simplicity of it. A fantasy story that wasn’t as overly detailed as many others that I’d read. I really liked the style, and it prompted me to go back over what I’d written and evaluate it in a different way, perhaps a little more critically. Not much was changed, perhaps just a few words here and there, but overall I felt that this fresh approach helped to make the chapters neater, and more satisfying to read.
So this question of influence has been a difficult one, but useful to try and answer, as it has helped me think about books that I have read in the past that might help me to evaluate and improve my own style. It highlights the power of reading in helping to make me a better writer. Reading can provide inspiration, can influence style and structure, and provide better tools with which to construct your own story.
“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”