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Author Topic: Fiction that has helped you be a better writer?  (Read 1771 times)  

Offline Jack.Hardin

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Fiction that has helped you be a better writer?
« on: March 09, 2018, 04:08:37 PM »
I've just finished Stephen King's "The Stand" and have been reading James Lee Burke as well.

Anyone here in the KB universe had any recommendation for FICTION that has helped them become a better writer? I'm not specifically talking about reading in your specific genre to discover tropes, etc.

Thanks!
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Re: Fiction that has helped you be a better writer?
« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2018, 04:28:59 PM »
I've just finished Stephen King's "The Stand" and have been reading James Lee Burke as well.

Anyone here in the KB universe had any recommendation for FICTION that has helped them become a better writer? I'm not specifically talking about reading in your specific genre to discover tropes, etc.

Thanks!

I've always been drawn to works that tell me something new about storytelling, even if it isn't something i'll use (or something i can't use because I don't have the skill) which means my answer to this is a pretty eclectic list that goes all the way back to my English degree.

But to start with an author you already name-checked, It is my favorite King book, more for how he told the story than how the ending doesn't quite pay out. Before that, Christine was a fine example of using first and third person interchangeably. Also in the horror genre, I learned a lot from Rice's first two vampire books.

Then there's Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury and Wolff's Mrs. Dalloway, the plays of Luigi Pirandello, Douglas Adams, Katheryn Kurtz's Deryni Chronicles, and Donaldson's Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever books, all of which I consumed at some point during my childhood.

For current works of great influence, I probably have to start and end with Neal Stephenson's books. Right now, he's the only author I read consistently, who keeps me guessing, and whose approach to storytelling changes from book to book. Although I did just finish The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu, which I found really interesting for a number of reasons, both in terms of plot and stylistically.

Oh, and comic books. I probably learned more about storytelling from Alan Moore than any of the above authors.

Offline AisFor

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Re: Fiction that has helped you be a better writer?
« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2018, 04:29:33 PM »
Hemingway. Learning to be simple is one of the most valuable things I've done.

Offline Joseph Malik

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Re: Fiction that has helped you be a better writer?
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2018, 04:30:12 PM »
Literally everything.

I read 3-4 books a week, any genre, anything and everything. I know the staff at my local library on a first-name basis, down to Dewey, the facilities guy. I buy books by the box at Goodwill and yard sales and then drop them off again as donations when I'm done. The precarious stack of books on my nightstand would kill me in an earthquake.

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Re: Fiction that has helped you be a better writer?
« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2018, 04:31:47 PM »
Everything I've ever read, including (or, perhaps, especially) the bad ones.
 
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Offline Lorri Moulton

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Re: Fiction that has helped you be a better writer?
« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2018, 07:15:05 PM »
Mary Stewart for romantic suspense. 

Watership Down for amazing characters.  Bigwig is still my hero!  8)

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Offline Jim Johnson

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Re: Fiction that has helped you be a better writer?
« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2018, 07:21:41 PM »
Literally everything.

I read 3-4 books a week, any genre, anything and everything. I know the staff at my local library on a first-name basis, down to Dewey, the facilities guy. I buy books by the box at Goodwill and yard sales and then drop them off again as donations when I'm done. The precarious stack of books on my nightstand would kill me in an earthquake.

"Reading is breathing in; writing is breathing out."
- Pam Allyn

This. I learn something new from every book I read. Whether it's something to experiment with, something not to do, something to remember or reinforce...every book is a little class in itself.

Offline kw3000

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Re: Fiction that has helped you be a better writer?
« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2018, 08:09:40 PM »
I know the staff at my local library on a first-name basis, down to Dewey, the facilities guy.

A guy named Dewey working in a library. Talk about fulfilling your destiny.  8)

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Offline tdecastro31

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Re: Fiction that has helped you be a better writer?
« Reply #8 on: March 09, 2018, 09:15:37 PM »
I've just finished Stephen King's "The Stand" and have been reading James Lee Burke as well.

Anyone here in the KB universe had any recommendation for FICTION that has helped them become a better writer? I'm not specifically talking about reading in your specific genre to discover tropes, etc.

Thanks!

I don't have a recommendation, because James Lee Burke would be my answer.

Offline Joseph Malik

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Re: Fiction that has helped you be a better writer?
« Reply #9 on: March 09, 2018, 09:35:16 PM »
A guy named Dewey working in a library. Talk about fulfilling your destiny.  8)

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Offline Max 007

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Re: Fiction that has helped you be a better writer?
« Reply #10 on: March 09, 2018, 11:46:44 PM »
Usually popular artists first works are the best. I don't read a terrible lot. But these have all left a lasting memory that I pull from.

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Re: Fiction that has helped you be a better writer?
« Reply #11 on: March 10, 2018, 01:19:09 AM »
I recently wrote a blog entry about my major influencers. But really, I've been a book addict since One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish and never stopped reading consuming books like other people breathe. I have an entire small bedroom devoted to paperback shelf space and still have boxes that won't fit. That's not counting the hardbacks in the closet or the 2700 books on my Kindle. I was crazy about Crazy Horse, Bobbsey Twins, White Fang, The Black Stallion, any dog rescue story, Canadian Mounties, science fiction (of any type hard, soft, opera, military), fantasy of any type, thriller, PI crime, UF, paranormal, and lately romance. Each has contributed to my writing in various ways.

I admire Asimov for his short story writing and the epic universe that all his stories fit within.
I admire Tolkien for his scope and complexity even if I gnash my teeth at how he wrote it (what not to do!).
I look at what Robert Jordan did as going too far into description and not engaging my emotions (so what not to do, and don't tug the braid!).
I look at all the dinner descriptions in GRRM's tomes as another what not to do :) Although killing off characters after developing them is fun!
I have The Sorcerer's Lady by Paula Volsky as an example of an almost fantasy romance that I want to tweak (plus a how not to end it!)
I remind myself often that the ending to Trudi Canavan's first series is appropriate even if I almost hurled my book across the room!
I admire Gina Robinson and Kristen Painter for their humor and wonderful characters.
I study what Brandon Sanderson does for magic systems and story/character development
I developed a fondness for poetic description from Barbara Hambly, Janny Wurts, and Grace Draven.
I absorbed what Tanya Huff did for urban fantasy before that was even a genre. Blood Ties ftw!
And I've certainly absorbed world building and great character creation from Mercedes Lackey - Valdemar world, Anne McCaffrey - Pern world, C. J. Cherrryh and her cats in space, Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman, Ed Greenwood (and anything Forgotten Realms related), Christie Golden, and all the other wonderful authors I've read over the years.

Thousands of books read. All of that in my head!
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« Last Edit: March 10, 2018, 01:20:55 AM by C. Gold »

Offline Jack.Hardin

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Re: Fiction that has helped you be a better writer?
« Reply #12 on: March 10, 2018, 03:52:28 PM »
Wow...great stuff C Gold. Well put.

I actually got The Sound and the Fury yesterday.

Thanks for all the responses everyone...very helpful!
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Offline beccaprice

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Re: Fiction that has helped you be a better writer?
« Reply #13 on: March 10, 2018, 03:55:52 PM »
Lois McMaster Bujold. alas, rather than inspiring me, she makes me want to throw down my pen and cry "I am not worthy!"
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Re: Fiction that has helped you be a better writer?
« Reply #14 on: March 10, 2018, 04:53:31 PM »
The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy: his prose is amazing. Short stories by Eric Frank Russell.

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Offline Flay Otters

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Re: Fiction that has helped you be a better writer?
« Reply #15 on: March 10, 2018, 07:11:58 PM »
A guy named Dewey working in a library. Talk about fulfilling your destiny.  8)
You make a decimal point.

Offline Jeff Tanyard

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Re: Fiction that has helped you be a better writer?
« Reply #16 on: March 10, 2018, 07:45:59 PM »
I look at what Robert Jordan did as going too far into description and not engaging my emotions (so what not to do, and don't tug the braid!).


I think Jordan can be held up as an example of both what to do and what not do to.  When he's on, he's magnificent.  When he's off, we get Crossroads of Twilight.


Quote
I admire Tolkien for his scope and complexity even if I gnash my teeth at how he wrote it (what not to do!).


I actually love Tolkien's style.  *shrug*


You make a decimal point.


I tried to come up with a joke about a card catalog, but I've got nothing.  So Flay wins this round.   ;)
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Offline Kal241

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Re: Fiction that has helped you be a better writer?
« Reply #17 on: March 10, 2018, 10:55:56 PM »
Brian Jacques Redwall series for strong good guy/bad guy/gray guy examples (and great stories), the Jack Reacher series for pacing, and Goosebumps, because R.L. Stine knows exactly how to use a cliffhanger and demonstrates it at every chapter. I'm also a fan of Anton Chekov's famous gun.

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Offline EvanPickering

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Re: Fiction that has helped you be a better writer?
« Reply #18 on: March 10, 2018, 11:07:28 PM »
Lol @ C Gold for the Robert Jordan braid tugging reference. IMO read the first 3 books of that series and stop.

I adored Brian Jaques novels and Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman series.

Last thing I read that was so much ficking fun and left me thinking I need to study the [crap] out of this book was The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie. Insanely entertaining and makes you a better writer, hands down.

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Re: Fiction that has helped you be a better writer?
« Reply #19 on: March 10, 2018, 11:19:39 PM »
I think Jordan can be held up as an example of both what to do and what not do to.  When he's on, he's magnificent.  When he's off, we get Crossroads of Twilight.

I actually love Tolkien's style.  *shrug*

I tried to come up with a joke about a card catalog, but I've got nothing.  So Flay wins this round.   ;)
You just need to befriend Orson Scott Card who can Ender the Game once and for all.  :o  ;D  ;D

Tolkien was inaccessible and intimidating to start out with. Three names for everyone, long stretches at a time with one party to where my sense of where each group was during events was totally shot, and Tom Bombadil (ugh, just ugh!) Some bad character whining (oh, I suck, I'm going to write bad poetry about how my life sucks and everyone is against me and waaaah!) Oh and the Silmarillion which should have been fun but wasn't. But boy does he delve into the full world experience with history, stories, basically the stuff he was interested in. Remarkably deep world building and certainly someone to study.




Offline ShaneCarrow

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Re: Fiction that has helped you be a better writer?
« Reply #20 on: March 11, 2018, 03:38:19 AM »
Interesting that this kicked off with King but nobody's mentioned his part-autobiography, part-guide On Writing. Writing advice books generally suck but King is such a down-to-earth, no-[bullcrap] kind of guy that I found it both useful and enjoyable.

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Offline P.J. Post

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Re: Fiction that has helped you be a better writer?
« Reply #21 on: March 11, 2018, 10:39:28 AM »
I have a hard time separating ideas. Music: like Pink Floyd, Zeppelin, The Dead Kennedys and the punk aesthetic, trip hop vibes, old jazz and blues, heavier stuff like Slipknot or The Deftones, they all have something to say, and trying to capture those moods...mixed with film, and then, of course, a gazillion books and short stories makes for an enigmatic mess. As a musician, it's much easier to point to influences; as a writer, I have no idea. Although, I think...

Literally everything.

This covers it.

I've also adopted lots of great advice from writers whose books I really don't care for, ironic, huh? But, for me, it's those weird books that stick with me the most, stuff that must have caught me at just the right time during my own drama: A Princess of Mars, What Mad Universe, Ender's Game, Silence of the Lambs, The Long Walk, Elric of Melnibone and Dhalgren to name a few. I'm sure they tug on my pen way more than I'm aware of. I'm always chasing emotion, empathy, because, I think the more we feel, and the deeper we feel it...the better humans we become.

I'm still discovering old and new authors, musicians and storytellers, creatives I never heard of; I'm old enough now that I can sense them rearranging the cogs, realigning the belts and gears...adding to the mess.
« Last Edit: March 11, 2018, 10:41:18 AM by P.J. Post »

Offline Word Fan

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Re: Fiction that has helped you be a better writer?
« Reply #22 on: March 11, 2018, 10:45:17 AM »
You make a decimal point.

Ha, ha! You're a real card for thinking up that one. I'm going to catalog it so I can laugh at it again later.

Offline kw3000

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Re: Fiction that has helped you be a better writer?
« Reply #23 on: March 11, 2018, 12:34:01 PM »
You make a decimal point.

I tried to come up with a joke about a card catalog, but I've got nothing.  So Flay wins this round.   ;)

Ha, ha! You're a real card for thinking up that one. I'm going to catalog it so I can laugh at it again later.

I checked out your jokes and give them stamps of approval.  8)

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Offline gilesxbecker

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Re: Fiction that has helped you be a better writer?
« Reply #24 on: March 11, 2018, 02:31:31 PM »
I've just finished Stephen King's "The Stand" and have been reading James Lee Burke as well.

Anyone here in the KB universe had any recommendation for FICTION that has helped them become a better writer? I'm not specifically talking about reading in your specific genre to discover tropes, etc.

Thanks!

I watched how Dorothy Dunnet reduced time into narrative summary, it was beautiful. I tried it, found I could do it. Wonderful jump-cuts too, from once scene to another. Same with Patrick O'Brien. Reduced the horrible situation where you are just grinding through one direct scener after another in order to forward the plot when it could well be done with NS, and well-done too.

O'Brien just omits any unnecessary and boring transitions by a fast jump. He is so good at it.

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