1. Welcome to the Fantasy Writing Forums. Register Now to join us.

Your influences and inspirations

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Yora, Mar 21, 2018.

  1. Yora

    Yora Maester

    684
    327
    63
    All creativity comes from reimagining old things in new ways, combining and recontextualizing them. "Everything is a remix", as they say.

    I am curious about what existing works had the biggest direct influence on what you consider to be good plots, characters, scenes, and settings when it comes to creating your own works. Where did you encounter the imagery, atmosphere, and specific elements that you are reimagining with your stories?

    The biggest one for me is clearly classic Star Wars, particularly The Empire Strikes Back. Dagobah and Cloud City are big setters for the mood and atmosphere I am striving for, and the look of Endor dominates the way I see my own setting in my mind. I also am quite fond of the conflicts Luke and Han are dealing with respectively.

    Another big one is the roleplaying game setting Planescape. It started as being a description of the heavens and hells of a regular generic D&D world, but the final thing ended up being so much more. It feels a bit like a sci-fi setting, but instead of hundreds of different planets there are dozens of different dimensions, populated by numerous different forms of mortals, angels, and demons. These don't have any direct influence on my own visions for fantastic worlds, but I am completely in love with many of the wilderness dominated dimensions that are inhabited by fey creatures and have few or no human populations. They are lush environments, but almost desolate when it comes to people. The quirky artwork also inspired me a lot in finding my own style of imagery, and I really latched on to the idea that belief of the masses will be reflected in the environment.

    When it comes to specifics of the setting, the big inspiration is the game Morrowind. Which I think is actually a rather poor game, but the setting is the most amazing fantasy world I've ever encountered. It's like an alien planet, but imagined as a true fantasy world without and science fiction elements. Giant mushroom trees, giant insects and reptiles as beasts of burden, warrior monks in brass armor, living god kings. I just love this stuff.
     
    Chessie2 likes this.
  2. Orc Knight

    Orc Knight Auror

    1,078
    770
    113
    Let's see. Everything from Jurassic Park to Pathfinder. For my sci-fi stories, I've used Star Wars fused with Gangs of New York and The Warriors and based on random stories I thought of from Lego sets. Which was one of my first big inspirations for the fantasy and knightly fun. Still collect the sets because sometimes it's easier to make a story when playing with Legos. As of late a lot of it comes from both Warhammer versions and twisting fairy tales and looking at mythology around the world. Pretty much summed up with this.
     
    Chessie2 likes this.
  3. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

    4,445
    1,610
    163
    I had to think about this. I can see a lot of echoes and straight out copies of others work in my own, and those influences have ebbed and flowed.
    But I have a few things that I think make me want to write and haven't moved.
    First is The Hobbit. It was the first fantasy story that I remember reading [that wasn't fantastical and silly] on my own and the feeling of wonder I had at every page. I would love to recreate that feeling in any reader with ANYTHING I write.
    The next is Blade Runner and Alien. To me, Ridley Scott's films pretty much defined what Sci-Fi should look and feel like. I've been trying to [re]write Blade Runner for thirty five years. There is a mix of the stylised, the practical and the incredible in almost every part of both films. And the Music... Wow! The Blade Runner soundtrack is one of the best albums I own.
    Then there is the HP Lovecraft mythos. I love the way you rarely get a handle on who/what the enemy is or what it wants... Its just sort of there screwing up the MC's idea of reality or possibility.
    Lastly there is Legend by David Gemmell. Druss is the Hero I try not to write every time. He's just so damned attractive as an MC...
     
    Chessie2 and Yora like this.
  4. Ruru

    Ruru Troubadour

    109
    69
    28
    My husband raves about Druss. I really must give David Gemmell a go.

    Emotion and visualization is the key for me, and I dream of being able to create the caliber of imagery and feeling in my own writing that my favorite authors have done for me.
    The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings are high on the list, and were as CupofJoe mentioned, an early experience that is hard to dislodge.
    Following that would be His Dark Materials trilogy, by Philip Pullman.
    I think that true dread is the emotion that I would most like to be able to convey, as there have been a few good reads that have been able to create a sense of out of control doom on a grand scale, for me at least. These would be pieces of the Kingdom of Thorn and Bone series, starting with the Briar King by Greg Keyes. And most dramatically for me, the Dog Chain sequence in the Malazan book of the fallen (I forget which book its actually in). This piece gave me a near panic level of stress while reading, and writing to that level of emotional influence is a (albeit very high) bar of mine.

    In a way I am as much influenced by the books I didn't enjoy, finding my writing incorporating plot lines or character types that didn't ring true for me, as a way of putting down how I would have done it instead. I guess a big drive for me there is if I am going to critique a piece of work like that, I'd best make the effort to make sure its actually better than what I read!
     
    Chessie2 likes this.
  5. Insolent Lad

    Insolent Lad Maester

    650
    361
    63
    I would have to admit it all starts with Edgar Rice Burroughs for me. I'm old enough to have been part of the original 'Burroughs Boom' of the Sixties, riding my bike down to the corner hobby store and spending at least part of my allowance on a paperback that transported me to Barsoom or Pellucidar. That influence will never leave me. Sometimes, I think I am just trying to recapture the wonder those books provided.

    But then there are so many since. Loads of SF, loads of fantasy, loads of mainstream adventure. And loads of history and biography. Including cultural history—having been an art history major, that side of things is always there in my world building and writing. And Tolkien, of course, not only his stories, his ideas, but also his language. It may not be 'exciting' but it is poetic. That goes a long way with me.

    I could write out a huge list of authors, I am sure, who have influenced me in some way. And still leave out many, so I won't attempt it.
     
    Chessie2 likes this.
  6. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    6,768
    4,774
    313
    I can name plenty of works I enjoy. It's much harder to say which have inspired me and even harder to say which have influenced me. Inspired me to write? Influenced how I handle dialog or description? But some names do spring to mind.

    Ray Bradbury, especially The Martian Chronicles. I was so taken by the prose at age fourteen, I wrote out whole chapters just to feel and taste the words.

    Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace, showed me how to handle battle scenes. That's still my standard.

    My model for dialog is Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. Different people talk different. It's almost too obvious even to mention, but damn hard to pull off.

    And I have to mention the historians who have influenced me. Too many to name, but the standard of writing there is clarity and precision. The annalistes were especially important to me--Marc Bloch, Lucien Febvre--but also folks like Sir Steven Runciman and Eric Hobsbawm. Really too many to name. They gave me my languages, my values, my vocabulary, and my raw materials.
     
    Chessie2 and CupofJoe like this.
  7. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

    2,509
    1,553
    163
    Tolkien to Donaldson, some Piers Anthony thrown in, and ye olde D&D boxed set... to the more modern GRRM. Mcuh of the old fantasy I used to read I now look at as exampes of how not to write, LOL. But then, that goes for most modern stuff too. Oh, Umbert Eco’s Name of the Rose.

    William Goldman on the screenwriting side. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid/Princess Bride.
     
    Chessie2 likes this.
  8. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

    1,599
    934
    113
    I think all of them have influenced me a little bit. Looking back on things I have made though, and I think I can see the influences of Robert E Howard, Michael Morecook, David Eddings, Mr. Tolkien, CS Lewis, Raymond Feist,and if I am being generous, cause he is more recent, Mr. Martin. I feel I have also been influenced a lot by Various comics including Batman and Superman, and by some great TV shows, Samurai Jack most recently, X-files, Star Trek and well too many to list. And a lot of movies. Star Wars was very shaping to me in my young teens, I was a fan.

    I have also been influenced by many of my writer friends...Anna Hiven, and Leslie Wilder in particular (probably unknowns here).

    And the influences keep coming, cause I keep finding more and keep learning...
     
    Chessie2 likes this.
  9. I find inspiration from all sorts of things.

    Here's a small list:

    Clamp manga [especially Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, Wish, Gate 7, and RG Veda]
    Studio Ghibli movies [especially Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle]
    Final Fantasy [especially Final Fantasy VII]
    Doctor Who
    Pokemon [especially Explorers of Sky]
    Key Arts anime [especially Clannad, Kanon, and AIR]
    Digimon [especially Adventure and Tamers]
    Okami
    Star Trek
     
    SM-Dreamer and Chessie2 like this.
  10. Tom

    Tom Istar

    2,726
    1,191
    163
    There are so many things that have had an impact on me...I think I'll start with the earliest influences and work my way toward the present. I'm a very visual person, so what I see shapes what I write in a major way.

    I think the era in which I was born made a huge impact on how I write--I started reading in earnest around the explosion of YA fiction, so a ton of what I read as a young teen was brand new material that was framed in a distinctly different style (casual language, realistic scenarios, less conservatism surrounding expletives, drug mentions, and sex) than older YA books. It made an impression on me, and the way I write dialogue reflects the style that new YA popularized.

    -Prince of Egypt, Treasure Planet, Mulan, The Iron Giant, and other 2D animated films of the late 90's-early 2000's
    -My very intense obsession with ancient cultures in elementary school
    -Chronicles of Narnia
    -Star Wars prequels (the scope of the worldbuilding, mostly)
    -The aesthetics of Romanticist and Pre-Raphaelite art
    -Lord of the Rings, both books and movies...at 13 I read the books for the first time in 3 weeks flat before watching the movies, which I'd bought on VHS from a garage sale. No motivation like knowing the movies will ruin the books for you if you watch them first.
    -Ursula K Le Guin
    -Terry Pratchett
    -The Queen's Thief series
    -Maggie Stiefvater (her writing style is everything I strive toward)
    -Hamlet
    -X-Files
    -Bioware concept artist Matt Rhodes
    -Naturally, Dragon Age
    -Conceptual photographers of the 70's and 80's

    I'm sure there's more, but that's just what I remember right now.
     
    SM-Dreamer and Chessie2 like this.
  11. Chessie2

    Chessie2 Staff Article Team

    1,212
    826
    113
    ^^ Hell yeah on the X-files! Greatest t.v. show of all time (my absolute favorite). The Elder Scrolls has also been huge for me far as construction of settings and an understanding of good storytelling through a medium other than books.

    Agatha Christie, Victor Hugo, Margaret Mitchell, Mercedes Lackey. Every awesome book I have ever read and every bad one, too. But out of all of these, I'd say Christie and Lackey have been the most influential in the way I write narrative structure (em dashes, italics, shorter paragraphs, dialogue that cuts off a lot, etc). Something about the way they write unleashes the lack of fear within me and it's why I have found their work to be such a powerful influence in my craft.
     
    Tom and Demesnedenoir like this.
  12. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    6,768
    4,774
    313
    I wonder if I was not lucky to grow up in a time when SF movies were terrible and there were no fantasy movies at all (1950s, 1960s). The only source I had was literature. I recall getting huge tomes from the library with titles like "Seven Greatest Novels of H.G. Wells" and plowing through just about every volume of The Galaxy Reader. No real fantasy reading until I stumbled onto a copy of The Hobbit as a high school sophomore.

    This is not a knock against the many outstanding movies and TV shows (and games!) of the past forty or so years. I'm a big fan. I cannot help wondering, though, if there are some identifiable differences in being influenced by other forms of media. I could argue it broadens one--different stimuli. I could argue it narrows one--less time to read more deeply and obscurely, finding hidden gems. Perhaps we need more time--a generation or two, or more--before historians and sociologists can spot trends and tendencies. A future grad student has a dissertation in there, somewhere.
     
    Demesnedenoir and Chessie2 like this.
  13. Chessie2

    Chessie2 Staff Article Team

    1,212
    826
    113
    ^Something to think about for sure, Skip. Video games immerse you in storytelling just as deeply if not more (arguably in some cases) than books. Although as a child of the 80's and 90's, I couldn't imagine what my childhood would've been like without the delight of electronic storytelling.
     
    TheMirrorMage likes this.
  14. Yora

    Yora Maester

    684
    327
    63
    In my experience. videogames are where you can find the most creative ideas when it comes to creating fantastic worlds. Books and also movies all seem very samey and generic to me. Though that might be because I respond very strongly to visual impressions and videogames provide you with sights for dozens of hours. But even with that in mind, I frequently find novels to be very much missing in describing the environments and looks of things, focusing all on plot.
     
  15. valiant12

    valiant12 Sage

    353
    102
    43
    Honestly video games aren't very creative in world building. Most of them are based on other media. For example one of my favorite game Warhamer Total War is obviously based on the tabletop game and the previews total war games.
     
  16. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

    2,509
    1,553
    163
    Whether the worlds are similar (visually) is upto the reader, a writer simply can not waste time putting that sort of details into a book.

    Video games as immersive as books... nope, not for me. The most immersive game I ever played was Dragon Realms and it’s text based.

    I always hear about the wonderful story-telling of games and I tend to find them... good, but I’m never impressed. Take the graphics away and... poof. They do have the advantage/disadvantage of having multiple writers as creative teams, similar to tv writing.
     
  17. Orc Knight

    Orc Knight Auror

    1,078
    770
    113
    Depends on the games. RPG's tend more towards it and using the Total Warhammer still invites one to go look into the actual lore and find out more about the tabletop games too. I can get very immersed in games and there are still plenty of text adventure games out there. It all seems to depend on how much effort the creators are willing to put into it. Like in the Elder Scrolls, where you can read books that give both in game historical points of view on past events but songs and stories for flavor too. Or, just play it the standard RPG way, kill the enemy, loot their corpses and level up.

    Also, suppose I could have been more specific with some of my examples too. Discworld was a big one and as of late the Five Hundred Kingdom's books too. I will still draw from any number of area's anyways. Probably plenty more.
     
    TheCrystallineEntity likes this.
  18. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    6,768
    4,774
    313
    Every time I see this thread pop up, I hear the Righteous Brothers.
     
  19. You're the inspiration.



    But on a serious note, it depends. Sometimes it's my son telling me a story about him fighting a ghost. Other times it's something else. Tolkien is a huge influence and so is Sanderson and some other modern writers.
     
  20. Gurkhal

    Gurkhal Auror

    1,075
    297
    83
    I take all manner of inspirations but its mostly music and history.
     
Loading...

Share This Page