Question: What famous author(s) do you feel your writing is most similar to, and why? AND/OR What author do you wish you wrote the most like?
My personal motto on style is perfectly encapsulated in this following quote from the last superb chapter in Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style:
“Write in a way that comes easily and naturally to you, using words and phrases that come readily to hand. But do not assume that because you have acted naturally your product is without flaw.
“The use of language begins with imitation. The infant imitates the sounds made by its parents; the child imitates first the spoken language, then the stuff of books. The imitative life continues long after the writer is on his own in the language, for it is almost impossible to avoid imitating what one admires. Never imitate consciously, but do not worry about being an imitator; take pains instead to admire what is good. Then when you write in a way that comes naturally, you will echo the halloos that bear repeating.” (emphasis mine)
(Incidentally, another good read on imitation and style is Austin Kleon’s excellent little book Steal Like An Artist, which I’ve reviewed a couple times. Most recently on my author blog here.)
All that to say, I don’t think my style is exactly like any one author, but obviously, when I look at my stories I do see bits and pieces and all sorts of wonderful, varied colorations. I deeply love and admire Jane Austen with her simplicity and her clarity—and Tolkien with his versatility and descriptive, poetic power—and Dostoevsky and Josef Conrad with their swirling depths and starkly gripping emotion—and also the lyrical beauty of B.J. Chute’s Greenwillow and the evocative power of Gaskell’s North and South.
Most of all, though, I see very early influences (which I didn’t even realize until recently when I was going back and rereading some of my favorites)! Three writers shine out particularly: Caroline Dale Snedeker (almost all of her books), Margaret Leighton (in her Journey for a Princess), and Beverly Butler (Song of the Voyageur). I read those gorgeous books over and over and over. Small wonder they captured my imagination!
And for a recent author: when I first read it I was actually floored to notice a kindred spirit and style in K.M. Weiland’s Behold the Dawn, with it’s particular blend and balance of internal and external conflict. A startling discovery, it was also an amazing encouragement. At least in that one story of hers there are some similarities and it’s a great encouragement that what I’m writing isn’t antiquated, that one day—somewhere—someone will enjoy reading it. :) And that’s a truly joyful prospect!