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Every writer has been influenced by some author or another–or possibly plenty of authors. I don’t think we can avoid it, to be honest. We spend too much time reading, soaking up the words of others. Learning from them, I think, is a natural and important part of being a writer.

We learn our craft by seeing what others have done. Most of us start by mimicking our favourite authors, in a way, before developing our own unique style.

Even once that style is fully developed, however, there’s still likely to be some bit of what we used to mimic that stays with us. And I think we owe it to ourselves, and to those authors, to recognize that.

Today, I’d like to kick off a new series of posts by talking about an author who influenced me: Meg Cabot.

Cabot, an author of almost 80 published books, writes for both adults and young adults. Some of her most well-known titles include the Princess Diaries series and the Mediator series, though my personal favourite is her Queen of Babble series.

When I recommended one of Cabot’s novels a couple of weeks ago, I hinted at how much of an effect she’s had on me. Now, I want to give you a little more detail.

One of the elements of Cabot’s writing that resonates with me the most is her humour. It seems to occur so naturally, helping to both provide a bit of entertainment while moving the story forward. It’s a delicate balance, and Cabot maitains it well.

At the same time–and often as part of the humour–Cabot brings a sense of reality to her stories. Sure, you can’t really expect all of her stories to be completely realistic (though some very well could happen, at least in part), but the little details are real. The way a character has to deal with having a runny nose in front of her crush. Or the repercussions of a failed relationship. Or the reality of bad sex.

When I write, I try to work in my own type of (or attempt at) easy humour and a sense of reality. I can’t help it; both are elements of Cabot’s writing that I’ve fallen utterly in love with. They make me smile, and they help me sink into the worlds she creates in her novels. And that’s exactly what I want my writing to do for someone else.

Next month, I’ll tell you about another author who influenced me: Christopher Moore. In the meantime, I’d love to hear about your own authors of influence. So tell me–whose writing had an effect on you?