Influences: Past, Present and Future

Anyone who’s known me a long time will hear me talk about Ultima, the series of rpg video games that provided me with some much needed escape in high school. The vagueness of the characters got me telling myself more about them. The long hours I spent, camped in my grandmother’s tiny second bedroom, staring into a black and white television set with controller of my Nintendo fixed in my hands were formative. It wasn’t long after that I wrote my first piece of fantasy: a terrible little thing with swords made of gemstones. Still, it was a start.
I’d always been a world builder. It’s the part I enjoy the most. Funny that I never got into tabletop gaming until gaming until my 30s. I guess I’d clung to the idea that I’d lose my connection to reality. I know it’s happened with video games. Last summer I completely fell into Dragon’s Dogma. I don’t remember Labor Day, but I remember hunting remishrooms to gift to Reynard, the cute wandering peddler.With tabletop, I found a lab for ideas. Writing a novel is very different than gaming, but still, I knew I was starting to nail a character when someone would talk about them like they were real.

But nothing influences me like books. Joss Whedon once said that you either watch television or you make it. It’s not the same with reading. You have to read in order to write, not just to know the market, but to learn. I haven’t been blogging a lot lately, and when I have, it’s mostly to review a book that really struck me. I’ve said before that bad books can teach you as much as good. I remember good lines from bad books, good parts of terrible books, and the scene stealing secondary character that should have been the star. Yet the really great books are the ones that lodge overall in my memory.

So I’m back to blogging, but I’ll be changing my focus a bit. From here on I’ll be including what the book I read taught me about writing. And I’ll be getting a bit more personal about the influence a book, film, or game had on me. I’ll try to avoid spoilers whenever possible but sometimes I’ll need to go into plot to talk about what I got out of the book, so I’ll let you know if there’s spoilers.

3 thoughts on “Influences: Past, Present and Future

  1. And in case you were wondering, yeah, I backed the Shroud of the Avatar on Kickstarter. I hope it feels like Ultima VII did when I finally go a PC – like going home.

  2. I’ve learned a lot from terrible book, more than from ones I enjoyed. With terrible books, I can deconstruct the writing. With awesome books, I just skim along. 🙂

  3. Agreed. A really good book is hard to analyze or critique because I get too caught up in it to pay attention. It can also make beta reading a challenge if the book is good enough.

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