Too Gruesome? Books/TV shows affecting your work.

I find my writing to be influenced by the books I read. I don’t believe it affects me as much as it used to. Within my novels, I like the think my writing styles and voice are fairly consistent throughout whatever story I’m writing.

Within NaNoWriMo, it can be difficult to write quickly while maintaining quality. The point is that you’re supposed to switch off that inner editor and try and write pretty much what comes into your head. This has increased the degree to which the styles of the books I read come through in my own work.

For example, I recently finished American Gods. While I can’t possibly write as well as Neil Gaiman, I feel that I can feel it’s influence in a particular scene that I wrote. Here’s an extract:


“What a lovely surprise!” Keats almost jumped out of her skin. A slender man appeared from nowhere. He had sandy coloured hair, a wide smile and he looked to be no older than 25. He clapped his hands and chairs appeared. “Sit down! I rarely have visitors, but when I do, I like to treat them well.” Keats did not sit down, but Kanber did. She began to remember how pleasant this man had been to her last time she’d visited. Keats looked at the stranger with suspicion.

  “Who are you exactly?” she asked.

  “That, unfortunately, is a secret. I can’t tell you.” He answered her question with the politest of smiles. Keats snorted.

  “Are you aware that living in this place is illegal? How long have you been staying here?”

  “I’ve been here for so long that I’ve forgotten exactly when I arrived. But I remember the circumstances. It was a very sad day indeed. Would you like some tea?”

  “No thank you. Care to elaborate on those circumstances? What are you doing here?”

  “I’d like some tea.” Kanber butted in.

  “I wait.” He got up to make the tea, using magic alone to provide the hot water. “And before you ask why, it’s another secret.”

  “No surprises there.” Keats muttered. Kanber graciously accepted her tea and the man lowered himself down onto a chair opposite her.

  “This tea is really delicious.” Kanber noted.

  “Thanks. Secret recipe.” he replied.  Keats rolled her eyes.

Also, watching Hannibal seems to have taken its toll on my writing style too. I’m a little worried this might be too gruesome for YA Fantasy:

Minutes later, they were looking down at a bloody, butchered corpse on the floor of the prison corridor. It was the unlikeliest of mother-daughter bonding activities. Kanber’s eyes were fixed on the heap of broken flesh. Aside from a couple of fragmented tattoos, it would have been impossible to tell that this foul mess was what used to be Vett. Kanber started to feel a bit nauseous, but not enough to stop looking. Blood and bits of organ tissue slid down the prison bars. It looked as if someone crushed him against the bars until most of him had fallen out of the other side.

I’m interested to hear how other people prevent books/TV influencing their writing.


9 thoughts on “Too Gruesome? Books/TV shows affecting your work.

  1. The hardest thing is we write what touches our lives. Everything we see and read comes through in our writing.

    I read a story years ago about a culture that seperated artist from others so they could do their work without influence of others. The story was of one artist who was given the work of others on the sly. He began to notice different aspects of his work that he hadn’t known before. Thinking it came from the influence of the other works he stopped doing it.

    In the end it was already a part of his work. It was through seeing it in others work that had brought it to his attention.

  2. I’d say it’s virtually impossible to not be influenced by those things you take in, things you read, watch on TV, or just those things you experience in your general life. You’re going to influenced in some way. It all combines together to eventually form your own voice. In the beginning, as you really begin writing you may emulate certain styles or a particular writer but the more you write, the more your own voice develops.

    Maybe embrace those influences.

    • I guess it’s a really hard line to walk down, embracing what you enjoy about other people’s work while trying to create something original of your own.

      Thanks for commenting. 😀

  3. I could write a damn essay on how media tv/novels effect my writing, but honestly music sometimes does more to influence my writing style. I think when I start a project and get a first draft, they have a strong reflection of others writers and media, but it’s the second draft where I start to chisel away and make it my own unique twist.

    As for gore, not a major issue to be honest. Example: I have a story where a character stabs someone with a pair of scissors into their eye and kills them (no complaints), but one character is suggested to be gay (all the haters). Literally have your character torture the living hell out of each other, but if no one has sex or sexuality is absent then it’s a green light.

    P.S. I like what your doing so far with these little snippets. Keep it up.

    • Yeah, Superstommy2 pointed that out on my Sex Scene post. People are completely fine with violence, but introduce sex and some people are completely turned off (no pun intended).

      I don’t really have any homosexual characters in my novels. Not deliberate, just never occurred to me. I suppose I have a couple of guys in TBAM who are very camp, but that’s about it.

      Thanks. 😀

  4. I’ve noticed I tend to “mimic” what I’m reading a bit–the style of it, at least–as I write. My only defense to make myself hyperaware of it. Sometimes it actually works for me 🙂 Othertimes it’s just not good. I remind myself I need to stay true to who I am and how I write.

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