Thursday, April 9, 2015

What Influences You?

This last week I took part in #Nestpitch reading slush for the mentor of my team. The competition isn't over yet, but my part seems to have slowed down a bit. I thought about all the different pitches and first 300 words that I've read the last few days. There are so many interesting ideas out there! It got me wondering.

What influences your writing?

A lot of authors will tell you that various books inspired their writing style, or their type of genre, but I had to wonder. Is that the only thing that inspires authors? Good books? Of course you're told that in order to write, you need to read. I believe in that one hundred percent. I love books. I've been an avid reader from the moment I picked up a book at the school library. The very first book I got at the Scholastic book fair still sits on my book shelf. I find myself wanting to be as lyrically beautiful as JRR Tolkien when I read The Lord of the Rings, but there are many other aspects of life that influences my writing as well.

Now, I can't really speak for everyone else, but I can tell you a bit about myself.

Hi. My name is Niki. I'm an avid gamer, particularly games with strong story lines such as:

The Legend of Zelda. Legend of Zelda, Ocarina of Time, was the first game I remember playing and beating one hundred percent on my own. It will forever be my favorite game of all time. 

Kingdom Hearts. Another game that I adore. I loved revisiting all of the Disney worlds in the game. 

Final Fantasy X. Sadly I have never finished this game, but the cut scenes were so beautiful that it will always be a favorite. I hope to replay it one of these days.

and Bioshock. There is so much about this game that I love from the 40's/50's feel to the unique bosses and weaponry.

I'm also a watcher of Japanese anime. Old school, since I used to watch it on Toonami on Cartoon Network when I got home from middle school. Some of my favorites include:

Sailor Moon. In middle school I had a friend that could draw anime and spent our free time in class drawing Sailor Moon pictures in everyone's notebooks. I loved the animation, I loved the female power, I loved the story lines.

Inyasha. Because, honestly, who doesn't want a dog demon following them around? And the cute thwap sound his ears made? Easily my favorite anime of all time.

and Gundam Wing. I adored Duo and the Death Scythe. The series ended before I could see the finale and Endless Waltz, but I will always love the concept of humans living in colonies in space and fighting with mobile suits.
I also love Gilmore Girls. I'd always hoped that when I grew up I would be Lorelai Gilmore and I'd have a daughter like Rory and we'd be surrounded by awesomeness.

and Charmed. I also hoped that one day I'd develop the ability to freeze time. I'm still waiting for that to happen.

All of these, along with Jurassic Park, Harry Potter and the Phantom of the Opera, have influenced my writing in one way or another. My Sleeping Beauty/Robin Hood retelling has a lot of Inuyasha's rooftop crossing. I saw it, I loved it, I wanted to write something similar to it. My YA Spec Fic has been compared to Frozen meets Pokemon. I don't really know much about the Frozen part of things, I wrote it before the movie came out, but I will admit I borrowed some of the concept from Pokemon. Here are the first few pages:

A fireball charged at me, crackling and spitting as it grew in size. It sounded like a freight train tornado, sucking air and whistling forward. Instincts took over and I ducked, throwing my hands over my head. The crowd around me wasn’t bothered by the fire as I peeked out at them from behind my fingers. Dressed in gray t-shirts and blue gym shorts, some chuckled and chatted, others played with their phones.
Ship, ship, ship. I’d spent so many years watching my language around my younger siblings that “ship” became a natural reaction, even in my head.
“It’s not real, Evie. Stand up,” Takeshi, my student trainer, shouted. His accent went from the calm British of my best friend to a thick, almost unrecognizable Japanese in his agitation. He couldn’t cross over the lines of tape on the basketball court without risking an automatic loss. Takeshi didn’t like to lose.
 “Don’t baby her, Tak.” My opponent, Tawny, sneered, hands waving in an intricate dance that I couldn’t emulate no matter how hard I tried. It was times like these when I wasn’t sure if she was my best friend or not.
The fireball barreled into an inky black wolf the size of a horse as we argued. The audience cheered. Energy from Tawny’s ball pushed my wolf into the wall where it yelped, fur smoking. The bird in front of Tawny soared up to the ceiling and spread its wings, giving a caw that shook the building. That it was a hawk of some sort, the size of a pteranodon, wasn’t surprising. Tawny always picked birds.

Suzanne Collins said that the idea for the Hunger Games came from mythology and Roman gladiators. She also said that she'd been watching TV and switching back and forth between a reality TV program where kids were competing for money, to a news channel where kids were fighting in war and said the lines between the two sort of blurred.

Veronica Roth has said that Psychology 101, "Sweet Sacrifice" by Evanescence, and splitting into groups, drove her writing of Divergent.

Stephanie Meyer had a dream that started Twilight.

Carrie, by Stephen King, was influenced by a discovery while working as a janitor that girls' showers had curtains, an article on poltergeists having telekinetic powers, and his memories of two girls at his own school, both dead, who formed the character of Carrie White.

Influences come from everywhere, from the books we read to the TV shows and movies we watch to the games we play. They come from real life experiences we have ourselves, or things that we've heard others experiencing. Many people listen to music and have playlists for what they write. Other's surround themselves with pictures. Some turn to Pinterest to nail down their characters, storyboards and places they've never been before.

 Don't limit yourself. Draw from every aspect of life.

So, what influences you?


  1. It's amazing how a creative person can take all these influences and mix them up into something fresh. I was also impressed by the range of ideas in the #nestpitch slush. So much good stuff!

    1. It's been so difficult to choose favorites!

  2. I grew up reading a lot of fantasy by female authors and find they strongly influence me to this day. Robin McKinnley, Anne McCaffrey, Patricia McPhilip... All have last names that start with Mc. Huh. Maybe I should become McMoore.