Books that Made Me a Writer

26 Jun

Painters learn what a good painting looks like by studying other paintings. Film makers learn how to structure a movie by looking at other movies. It would stand to reason then, that writers learn to write by looking at other writers works (AKA books).

Today I wanted to talk about books that not only inspired to be a writer, but books that have made me a BETTER writer.

The first novel I ever remember reading that made me think: This is what I want to do, was Double Identity by Margret Peterson Haddix. I read it in third grade and after that I started writing my first novel… or book with ‘chapters’ which I thought was a novel at the time! After that I just knew it was what I wanted to do. I wanted to make an experience for people just through a few words. I still have my copy and keep it up on my shelf for when ever I need inspiration. I still read her newer books.

Next, many years later, I read WAKE by Lisa Mcmann. I checked it out at my local library, and was totally hooked! I can’t tell you how many times I read that novel. After checking it out for the fifth time my mom finally just bought it, because she got tired of its reappearance every-time we went to the library. That was me at 13.  Lisa taught me a lot about novel structure now that I’m thinking about it. Anyone who has ever read anything by her knows her style is very sparse, and almost choppy, in its bluntness. Lisa is a no frills kind of gal. And that was really beneficial to me as my 13-year-old writer self. At the time I was ALL frills. I never finished anything I started, and got lost in globs of purple prose that would make your eyes burn if you saw them. Wake showed me I didn’t need all that, and it made for easy display of how plot was supposed to be set up. Their were no extra words to muddle what she was saying, and that’s when I really started understanding how novels really worked, or in my case didn’t work.

At the point I started taking writing more seriously, and I got into reading non-fiction writing books. That brings us to The Forest For the Trees: An Editor’s Advice to Writers by Betsy Lerner. This novel really put publication, and writing for readers into perspective for me. Up until this point I was just writing for me, and while that’s always great, if you plan to get published you have to write for the public too. This is an awesome novel for any writer who wants to improve their craft, or just learn about the publishing world.

Finally, and most recently is Shades of Grey by Jasper FFordes (no the two F’s are not typos). I read this just a few months ago. Shades of Grey is an Adult dystopian novel. Until then I’d (this is embarrassing) always been a bit afraid of modern adult literature. The only thing I’d seen of it was my Father’s Clancy novels, some really boring biographies. After I read this novel the line between Adult and YA  fiction really blurred for me. Even though you are technically writing for two different “groups” you are still writing for PEOPLE, and it made me realize that a good story is just a good story no matter who is reading it!

These novels were big turning points for me as a writer. What about you guys? Anything change you in a writerly way?

 

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12 Responses to “Books that Made Me a Writer”

  1. Jennifer Stuart June 26, 2012 at 10:24 pm #

    Right now I’m reading “Zen in the Art of Writing” by Ray Bradbury, and it is changing the way I see and perceive and DO writing. It is utterly amazing. Before that, there was “Jitterbug Perfume” by Tom Robbins, and “The Hitchiker’s Guide To The Galaxy” by Douglas Adams and all of the connected-yet-not-quite-sequel books; and “Vurt” by Jeff Noon. So many amazing books that have influenced me! Such a good thing to think about 🙂

    • nkeda14 June 27, 2012 at 11:49 am #

      I’ve heard of “zen in the Art of Writing”. I’ve been thinking of picking it up, and now it’s defiantly on my list! Thanks for commenting!

  2. Naomi June 26, 2012 at 10:39 pm #

    And another great post! I agree that what we read shapes us as writers.
    I started properly reading aged 8, and I started with Harry Potter, which brought me into the land of books and stories. I used to sneak a torch up to my room so that after my parents were asleep, I could read under the sheets, I was obsessed and fascinated by this whole new world opening up to me.
    An author who changed my perspective was John Green – one of my all time favourite authors – it was after reading his books that I started reading critically, appreciating the magnificent writing in detail rather than just thinking “this book is great”, if you know what I mean. And I most definitely agree about writing for people, not just groups. John Green has a talent for writing YA that is still perfect for older age groups too, it isn’t just for teenagers or just aimed at that age group, I mean they aren’t children’s books either, but I’d say 13+ could read and understand them.
    I also have to say Michael Morpurgo, another one of my favourites, I got to meet him and discuss his books and writing with him, which was amazing, so that definitely helped. He has this amazing talent for writing with such raw honesty, his books are really good, I love them. When I went to meet him I had I think like 13 books with me (have acquired more since) and I was like “Erm, how many of these would it be reasonable to ask you to sign?” (he said he would do all of them, he was really lovely). I think meeting/talking to writers is good too!

    • nkeda14 June 27, 2012 at 11:41 am #

      John Green. I feel so out of the loop! I literally have never read a novel by him. It’s embarrassing because I’m constantly hearing people talking about him and his novels and I have nothing to say. I keep seeing them all over, but I just never have the gumption to pick them up, because something else is always on my list. Which of his novels is your favorite? I have to get on bored the bandwagon and read something of his.

      Also, I haven’t met any authors in person 😦 It’s probably because I live in a small town so they don’t really come around where I live. I’d have to drive up to Cincinnati to see anyone. And even then authors don’t stop there much.

      • Naomi June 27, 2012 at 1:36 pm #

        Aww, shame. Yeah I’m in Oxford, university town, very old so there’s a lot of authors that come around. I really like The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, and also Paper Towns. They are quite different, but both good. I haven’t read Looking For Alaska though, which is his most famous novel (and his first).
        John makes videos on YouTube with his brother Hank though if you want to see more of what he’s like (youtube.com/vlogbrothers) and I believe he has a couple of videos of him reading the first chapters of The Fault in Our Stars, so you could watch them to get an idea of the beginning of the book if you’d like without having to go out and buy it right away.
        Oh and I met Michael Morpurgo at a book festival by the way, so there were lots of authors there.

  3. Krystal Rose June 27, 2012 at 12:12 am #

    First and foremost, let me begin by saying, this post is absolutely wonderful. While reading it I kept thinking about how much it sounded like something I would think about. Books are like oxygen to me, essential for every breath I take, and it is so great to see others with the same kind of passion for literature. My mom loves to tell me, and anyone else who will listen, 😉 about how I was practically born with a book in hand. She credits this to all the time she spent reading to me while I was in the womb, as well as once I was born up until I was old enough to take the book from her and do the reading myself. I remember going to the library with my dad and literally piling books up in front of him that I wanted to take home, which was great since the library actually allowed quite a large amount to be taken at once. Once home I would anguish over which to crack open first and therefore, I would read a little of each until they were done. Haha a fact of which I still do today, at almost 29 years old. It wasn’t until I was in middle school that I actually found my favorite book though. That delightful story was by the lovely Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice. I have since been drawn to classics by her and others and love the language and the way my imagination pictures everything back then. In current times, my favorite authors vary as I am a sucker for YA novels more than the “adult fiction”. Jodi Picoult is my favorite adult fiction writer, purely because she is gutsy with her subject. I appreciate someone who can tackle serious, and almost always controversial, issues in her novels and play to both sides. A lot of people don’t care for her writing because of how controversial her books can be, but I find books like these very engaging and thought provoking. As for my YA authors of choice, I must admit that recently Cassandra Clare’s “The Mortal Instruments” series has completely engrossed me. I have read books 1-4 within a few weeks and am just starting the 5th. People think I am too old to read YA books, but I disagree. I think that so many of them have such a special voice and are written with such intelligence…and what could be bad about books that inspire new book lovers and future writers, right? I also agree with the comment above who mentioned John Green, he is a wonderful writer also. Anyway, again I loved this post and I apologize for writing so much. I got a bit carried away. 🙂 Books do that to me.

    • nkeda14 June 27, 2012 at 12:09 pm #

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting (and don’t be sorry for the length, I love reading comments)!

      It’s funny the way you talk about the library, because I was like that too. I still can’t help but smile when I walk into one. It’s kind of magical *book geek alert*. There is just something about a whole building dedicated to words, and stories…

      I could stay in their for HOURS. haha

      Anyway, I also agree with you about not being too old to be reading YA. Like I said in the post, a good book is a good book. End of story. I understand why books are classified into groups, but I think it can be a bad thing to do that as it limits some people from reading certain books. A lot of times people fell constricted by genre and I don’t think that’s a good thing! So right on to you for reading YA at 29!

      Thanks again for commenting!

  4. lilacandivy June 27, 2012 at 10:48 am #

    I would say Donald Miller shaped me the most concerning blog posts and anything else where I talk about myself and my life. His honesty concerning how life sucks and rocks, God’s unfairness and God’s amazing grace, definitely turned me off to writing self-help posts and generally just talking like I’ve got everything all figured out and life’s all peachy… 🙂
    As far as writing fiction, Ella Enchanted was one of my favorites when I was young, and I would love to be able to create a story as well as Levine.
    Hmmm, I haven’t really thought back on the books I loved when I was younger.

    • nkeda14 June 27, 2012 at 11:43 am #

      Donald Miller… Don’t think I’ve heard of him. I’ll have to look him up. Also I loved Ella Enchanted as a child! It’s a shame the movie they made of it was so off from the book. I suppose that is how it goes though.

  5. Kylie June 27, 2012 at 4:17 pm #

    There are a few writers who have really influenced me:

    J.K. Rowling-always mentions what her characters are eating. A small thing, I know, but now I always do the same thing.

    Cassandra Clare: She uses simple language but you get such a picture in your head. And all her characters are so unique, with their own backstories. I think her character development has helped me a lot.

    Shannon Hale: is very lyrical and poetic.

    • nkeda14 June 27, 2012 at 8:29 pm #

      Oh Cassandra Clare! I do love her characters (especially Jace)! Julie Kagawa is also an excellent example of character development. She wrote the “Iron Fey” series, and I adore all her characters!

  6. RaeAnn June 28, 2012 at 12:27 am #

    John Connolly, Jodi Piccoult, John Grisham, to name a few. I’d a strange habit of picking books based on my mood, and a good story. So I don’t particularly looked for authors, but rather for a story that ‘speaks’ to me.

    Most of the stuff I read are borrowed from the library. I even went as far to sign up as a member of various libraries in different locations, just because I can boorow more books! And when I went to the library, I would always stay there until it closes. And thatis because I’m afraid of being locked up inside! but, now, come to think of it, that seems a great idea!

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