By K. L. Bridgewater
I have heard this told to me a lot of times by a number of different published and unpublished writers. It is good sound advice. If you had read a lot in that genre, then you probably understand how the genre works the best. You have subconsciously woven in your brain where the inciting incident occurs, how many bad things have to happen to make your character squirm, and how satisfying the ending has to be.
As a young girl, I enjoyed reading The Baby-sitters Club and Sweet Valley series, but I gravitated toward their mystery series, which is why I probably spent one summer reading all fifty something Nancy Drew books by Carolyn Keene. Yes, in one summer. I couldn't wait to return to the library and check out another one. Even if the library was a two hour bike ride, one way, from my childhood home. It was worth it.
One of my favorite books is The Count of Monte Cristo. I was assigned to read that book during my freshman year. I signed up for a senior level creative writing class, where I couldn't wait to write stories and get graded for it. The teacher passed out a copy of the book to everyone in the class. We would have weekly quizzes on certain chapters, but we were suppose to have the book done by the end of the semester. That night, I went home and after all my other homework was done, I pulled out Alexandre Dumas' masterpiece and started reading. I finished the 1000+ page book in one week. I truly enjoyed it. Revenge. Escape from prison. Sword fights. Buried treasure. Betrayal. Romance. It was great. Today, I return to the hollow pages of that book every winter.
Recently, I found Sherlock Holmes. Great books. I love how Arthur Conan Doyle wrote the books over one hundred and twenty-five years ago, but you would never know that by his verbal skills. It flows like a modern day novel. Mystery. Action. On the hunt following clues. I always try to find out who did the mystery before Sherlock Holmes does.
Trust me, I took a class in graduate school on the beginning of the novel from the eighteenth and early nineteenth century, and I hated the way some of those authors wrote. Way too much description and interior monologue. I really don't care what the characters are wearing. Maybe that is why I can't stand Jane Austen. Too boring! Don't throw stones at me. The girls I went to graduate school already gave me the riot act because I won't read Jane Austen.
Another one of my favorite authors is J.K. Rowling, C. S. Lewis, and J.R.R. Tolkien. I don't read a lot of fantasy. I have tried, but I get bored. But these three authors have created entire worlds with their writing, that I love getting lost in. I love walking through the halls of Hogwarts, rummaging through the wardrobe to Narnia, or traveling the countryside to Mortar or the Misty Mountain. Also, books I like to read in the winter.
Because of these great authors, I try to write suspense that will be lasting and stick with the writer for the rest of their lives. I would love, in the future, someone told me they would pick up my book and read it every winter because they enjoyed my writing.
What authors influences your writing? What book do you keep returning to every year, wanting to learn more and experience that rush of happiness?