Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Inspiration and Perspiration

This week's Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog question comes from Deb Salisbury who asks:

What type of book do you read for writing inspiration, and why? Do you read fiction or non-fiction, and what genres? Mysteries and YA, or archeology and astronomy?

Good question Deb! I guess I need different kinds of inspiration.

For book ideas? Recently, I read through a copy of Scientific American and got so many new sci-fi ideas. I love mooching off the latest technology! The Little House books by Laura Ingalls inspired my second novel about a kick-ass, flint-lock rifle-shooting gal in the upper Mississippi territories. I wanted to take a smart, strong frontier girl and amp her up a notch. Someday I'll revive Polly Sterling out of that shelved novel.

But truthfully? Most of my ideas don't usually come from books or magazines. I have a running fascination with the human body, disease, mortality, and fertility that keep cropping up as themes in my writing and poetry. 

For writing style and plotting? YA books for sure. When I'm sad that I've hit the last page, or have to reread a paragraph just so I can turn of words around in my brain again...*sigh* These books make me sweat and work harder (No inspiration, no perspiration!). Here's a teeny, tiny list of books and how they inspired me:

The Hunger Games: Make every sentence earn its existence. There is no superfluous fluff in there.
Harry Potter: Keep the MC's goal very clear and the reader desperate for a resolution. (JK should have renamed the book "That-Which-Cannot-Be-Put-Down")
The Scorpio Races: Flawless world building. Loved her non-stagnant, lyrical prose.

There are so many other books that inspire me (as well as many that have taught me what I don't want to do), but then this post would be waaaaay too long.

Is there a particular book that's inspired your writing?

45 comments:

Jessica Bell said...

I think reading anything and everything is inspiring to me. And as you said, some show what NOT to do. Which is just as good! :o)

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Um ...
I want to read about your kick-ass, flint-lock rifle-shooting gal.

Laura Pauling said...

I love finding books that inspire me to write better. Like Jessica said, finding ones that are just so so help to. I find books with a great story and books with great prose equally inspiring.

Miranda Hardy said...

Several YA books I've read recently have inspired me. Thirteen Reasons Why...great concept and lesson. Delirium...world building and description. Daughter of Smoke and Bone....imagination is incredible.

Bryan Russell said...

Too many inspiring books to count. Lately, Irmgard Keun's After Midnight and Daniel Woodrell's Winter's Bone. Those books make me happy I'm a writer.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Yes, I agree. I get inspired so much from reading authors like the ones you mentioned. And reading ones that don't work as well that show how things can be better. I find as I grow as a writer I learn even more from the books I read.

Clarissa Draper said...

Great insight. For me, depending on the genre I'm writing at the time will determine what books are most inspirational. However, I do get great ideas for books from magazines and things I read.

Louise Bates said...

Anything by Lloyd Alexander or Diana Wynne Jones. I go back to those two all the time for that peculiar blend of humor and deep truth.

Wrede and Stevermer's Cecy and Kate books have also been a great inspiration for me, in how they so seamlessly blend reality and magic into a remarkably believable world. Plus, they're a lot of fun, which is always great for starting the writing juices flowing!

Matthew MacNish said...

I think every book I read inspires my writing. I seriously haven't picked out a book I didn't love in like over a year now.

Old Kitty said...

I'm sure I've said this before so sorry for repeating - but SE Hinton's The Outsiders really really really fired up my initial passion to write!

Take care
x

Emily Rose said...

I actually like to read non fiction books to inspire me. Usually something about a writer that stuck with it and got her book published, and she is now successful. Something really motivating.

Deborah Walker said...

I've recently been inpired by Carrie Vaughan's urban fantasy series, Kitty. For it's page turning quality. And it's linear first pov narrative, which has helped me immensely with my attempt at a novel.

April Plummer said...

I really don't know now to answer that. I just read so much, and so much inspires me in different ways. Sometimes, an author's humor like the book I just finished. Sometimes the prose (also like the book I just finished). Sometimes, if it's a nonfiction, it'll give me ideas. YA may give me hope for our youth...or make me fear for our youth and give ideas. Just...reading in general. I don't read stuff I can't get into, so if I'm into it, it's going to inspire me in some way.

Stephen Tremp said...

Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child were the biggest inspiration. Dean Koontz and Dan Brown too. Hunger Games was great. No fluff is right. Looking forward to the movie.

E. Arroyo said...

When I'm actively seeking inspiration I reach for non-fiction.

Nancy said...

Haven't read the scorpio ones. I will have to try that since I love the others. I love early and later Dean Koontz (especially Watchers), not so wild about his middle years.

Bossy Betty said...

I love it when a book inspires me. It's been awhile Gotta get reading again! Thanks for the reminder!

Jax said...

Great interview! I agree that reading books inspires writing. Reading other people's experiences comes as a second inspiration to your own experiences.

Slamdunk said...

Michael Shaara's historical fiction classic "The Killer Angels" meant the most to me.

The way he uses short yet powerful sentences to create a dramatic story and paints the strengths and flaws of his characters so well was and is inspirational for me.

February Grace said...

What Dianne said!!!

Meredith said...

Those three books have inspired me, too. I get a lot of inspiration from people-watching. And art--I love going to the museum, finding a painting, and trying to develop a concept from it.

K. Turley (Clutzattack) said...

I love Diana Wynne Jones. Whenever I put down one of her books I can't get my computer booted fast enough to start writing again.

Laura Josephsen said...

Hunger Games and Harry Potter are both very inspirational.

The Chronicles of Narnia were some of the most influential books to me growing up. Nowadays, there are all sorts of stories, but I tend to be drawn to speculative fiction books. Or books that tug on my heartstrings and make me laugh in there too.

Connie Keller said...

The Hunger Games was really inspiring to me.

But usually when I want inspiration, I try to read outside the genres I write. I try to pay attention to the strengths of those other genres and think about how to incorporate those strengths into what I write.

Krispy said...

When I need inspiration, I reread parts of favorites. Amazing writing inspires me as much as it can sometimes depress me. Haha. I totally agree about your book examples.

Lately, the books that have inspired me are THE SCORPIO RACES (for flawless, effortless world-building and atmosphere setting), DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE (for lyrical writing and wildly imaginative world and myth-building), and THE SPACE BETWEEN (for complex characterization - humanizing non-humans and walking the delicate line between good/bad, broken/saved, love/loss).

akossket said...

The last book that inspired me was The Near Witch by Victoria S.
She has a way with words that make me re-read paragraphs just because.

Margo Berendsen said...

I just read a YA contemporary from a few years ago, Right Behind You, by Gail Giles, and it really inspired me. I read it one night!~ I definitely plan to go back and analyze how the author put it together!

I keep hearing about the Scorpio Races - must read it!

Cynthia Chapman Willis said...

No one book has inspired me. Whenever I read gorgeous writing or a story that shines in some way, I am inspired. It's always a treat. Oh, and I loved The Scorpio Races, too. Flawless word building is right.

Deb Salisbury said...

"That-Which-Cannot-Be-Put-Down"
ROFL! That is so true.

Great post!

A Lady's Life said...

thats funny cause you never know what hits you when.You get ideas from everywhere

Margo Kelly said...

I read everything, and I find inspiration in strange and unusual places.

bethchristopher.com said...

Markus Zusak's "The Book Thief" is incredibly inspiring. Sometimes I'll just turn to a random page, and every sentence is so unique and gorgeous. I could live ten lifetimes and never write like that...

Carrie Butler said...

Great post, Lydia! So many books have inspired me--especially the ones that linger emotionally. :)

Madeleine Maddocks said...

Great post I love Patrick Ness' trilogy, it is fast paced and gripping througout.

This next suggestion isn't YA but I so love Lori lansen's The Wife's Tale simply because she seems to break all the rules in How Not to Write a Novel and still writes a compelling read. The description on first page is so evocative.

DL Hammons said...

This may actually be opposite of what your talking about. I read a book by MARY HIGGINS CLARK, but I don't remember the title of the book. I just remember thinking to myself after I finished it..."this is a relatively famous author, and I know I can write better than this!"

:)

Ghenet Myrthil said...

I'm also inspired by YA books, and when I read them I always pick up writing tips. :)

Karen Lange said...

There are a lot of books that inspire me, everything from my WIP genre to books on the craft. I need to lobby for more reading hours in the day. Looking forward to reading about Polly when you bring her around. :)

Coleen Patrick said...

I read all kinds of books, but in YA John Green's stories usually inspire me, especially Paper Towns because it has just the right mix of humor and depth.

Michelle Dennis Evans said...

I am inspired by biographies.
James and the Giant Peach inspired me to write for kids.
And I love reading amazingly written novels... That also inspires me.

Sarah Pearson said...

I read pretty much anything I can get my hands on. Perhaps this is why I can't settle on a genre for my writing :-)

The Golden Eagle said...

If a book is good, I'll find myself inspired by it. :) Though I love reading non-fiction science books for story ideas.

Angela Ackerman said...

One book that inspired me was Katherine Langrish's TROLL FELL. The description was so well done. I wish I could write so vividly. :)

Angela

Theresa Milstein said...

Harry Potter is a wonderful example of how to do a series. I think The Hunger Games is a perfect example of how not to do a series. Each book got worse for me. That's inspiration too. I can figure out what went wrong, so I know how I would do things differently. Honestly, I'm shocked about the hype. When the first book is a best book, it makes me have zero interest in seeing the movie.

lbdiamond said...

Awesome answer!

I love the examples you give.

Leslie Rose said...

So many inspirations from Three Musketeers to A Million Suns. Hmm, maybe books with numbers in the title work for me.

 
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