Quite a while ago, Books and Such put up a blog post about writing idols, and recognizing what it is about their talents that you yourself as a writer want. Basically, you look at their style and decide what kind of a writer you want to be based off of that. I loved that idea, so I thought I'd make a full blog post about my writing idols and what they have taught me about writing. I know I've talked about these people a lot, but they really do deserve it! So here it is!
*Check out the 16 June 2018 update on this post here.*
Brit native Jo Rowling with her glorious Harry Potter series, as you all should know by now, is my ultimate writing idol, and I admire so much more about her than even her writing. I admire her strength through the trials she's faced, and I admire her charitable contributions and spirit. But as for her writing, there are a few specific gifts of hers that I wish to bring into my own work.
First and foremost, J.K. Rowling is an incredible world-builder. I struggle so much with world-building as a speculative novelist, and she just knows everything about the Harry Potter world. Everything. Not just the incredible stuff shown in the books, but so much more as well.
Not to mention how much culture and meaning she slips in secretly throughout the book, as connected into the world-building. Just find any Pinterest board or Tumblr with Harry Potter stuff, and you'll see bits of information various fans have managed to pick up on--brilliant stuff. She knows her literature, and that is so very clear in the little details you find.
Of course, she's gifted in so much else as well. Her character development is nicely done, her prose beautiful and clean, her plotting obviously excellent, and everything else I can think of she does quite well in. Besides the Harry Potter series, I've also read The Cuckoo's Calling, and I loved it, particularly for the prose and voice. She is undoubtedly a terribly gifted writer.
But in the end, if there's anything I'd want to take from Jo Rowling, it is and most likely always will be her extremely detailed and magnificent world-building.
Scotsman Steven Moffat is famous among the ranks of Doctor Who and Sherlock fans, as he is the head writer of both shows currently. He is also a figure of great controversy--generally you either absolutely love or absolutely hate him. I personally am among the ranks of the Moffat fans, and would love to meet him, because he is, yes, one of my writing idols. The only one of my writing idols who does screenwriting.
So what attracts me so much to Moffat? Simply enough, I find his work to be very clever and emotionally strong work. At least two-thirds of my favorite Doctor Who episodes are by him, and, of course, I'm just a huge Sherlock fan. The fact that Moffat is as well-known as the actors on these shows is huge in and of itself. That's not something that happens very often. Come on, name five actors, and then name five screenwriters. I bet you can't do the second. But BBC fans know Moffat. Very well.
I recognize Moffat's limitations. He does have just a slight edge of sexism, where tends to stick with standard, cliche female types, rather than expanding. He also does much better episode by episode instead of in a full story arc through the seasons.
But if you focus in on the individual episodes, I think you'll see what I mean. Every single one of them drives an incredible emotional punch, usually through fear, but in other ways as well. They're also extremely creative, I think, enough to keep me up at night trying to work things out in my mind. That is why Moffat ranks on this list.
Suzanne Collins, author of The Hunger Games trilogy, is the only non-European (American) writer on my writing idol list, funnily enough. Apparently, I really like Europe. But for what it's worth, I really love Suzanne Collins' work. Not that liking her work is a surprise, given the huge success of The Hunger Games.
Why does Suzanne stand out to me? Mostly because of her use of realistic voice with Katniss Everdeen. I have never encountered a voice so strong and so enticing as Katniss's, and I am dying to create something so powerful. What's more, Suzanne also demonstrates a very brutal ability to express the complete truth about her subject without shying from the more terrible bits of it, a great strength with character development, and some fair world-building skills of her own. These are all great things to have, as a writer, and I give her kudos for them all.
Hans Christian Andersen
I really don't think I need to go over all the reasons Hans Christian Andersen, the famous Danish fairytale writer, is on this list, because I've said them all before. Multiple times. Let's just say me and he have a lot in common.
But what I really admire about his writing is the magic and beauty of it, and not in a way that avoids honesty. These are original fairytales, and as you all should know by now, the originals are never so simple and sweet as the Disney versions. The thing with Andersen's works though is that, though they lack a traditional happy ending, they often have deeper "happy" endings, once you consider the very consistent religious aspect of his works. I love how deeply intertwined religion is with Andersen's tales. It takes a bit more of a mature mind to comprehend his stories, but once you understand them, they are so truly breathtakingly beautiful.
Anthony Horowitz, another British novelist, first caught my attention with his bestselling Alex Rider series, about a teen M16 agent, and then even more strongly with his Gatekeepers series, a YA horror/epic fantasy mix. I admire so much about his work, but probably the greatest aspect of it, to me, is his no-nonsense approach.
Yes, his works are for teens and children, but in no way is he talking down to them, even a little. This stuff is intense. Way intense. Backstabbing secret agencies, bloodthirsty crocodiles, violent deaths, serious witchcraft, and the incarnation of all evil are just some of the things that appear in his writing. He doesn't seem, even for a second, to hesitate about what a kid "can or cannot handle." He just writes, and in it, creates a really great story with real lives and real emotions at stake. And I love that about him.
There are so many other writers, naturally, that I greatly admire, though they haven't made it onto my writing idols list. With so much talent out there, so many great books, and so many aspects to writing, there has to be. I could go on and on about them-- C.S. Lewis's refusal to back away from religious themes, Rick Riordan's incredible creativity, Tahereh Mafi's beautiful prose, Meg Cabot's relatable characters--but that would take more time than we have. I would love to hear from you, though: what writers do you admire, and why? What do you think is the best aspect of their writing? Tell me what's up.
As always, thank you for reading today, and come back next time for a post on web analytics and blogging. Thank you so much! Also, don't forget to respond to last week's reader's survey, if you haven't already! It's open until the 26th.
Images via harrypotter.wikia.com, thesun.co.uk, theguardian.com, wildthings.blaine.org, and telegraph.co.uk.
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