4 Novels That Inspired Me As A Writer

So ... I harbour this tiny ambition to maybe write a story someday.
Judging by what I've heard around the book bloggersphere, a lot of you are the same. Most of you will probably be further along than me - I'm still to pass the actually-finishing-a-first-draft stage - but I'm sure you'll know the feeling of having zero inspiration. Maybe even half-forgetting why you write in the first place. And, often, when I'm in that place, it's reading a really good book that fills me up with excitement again.

I thought I'd share some of those books today. Life at the moment is ridiculously fast-paced and, what with trying to keep up this beautiful blog here, I haven't actually had time to sit down and get some words out in a long time. That means I have a lot of ... overspilling inspiration? And I WANT TO SHARE IT, SO READ THIS OR SUFFER.

I'm only half-joking about how serious I am.

The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet by Stephanie Morill
There are many reasons that this is an awesome book to read not just for teenage writers, but also for all writers and ... well, everyone that has eyes, really.

First of all, STEPHANIE MORRILL IS A QUEEN. She's the brilliant mind behind Go Teen Writers, which is basically the best writing advice blog I've ever come across, and you can guess that she has a pretty intimate knowledge of what it is to be a teen writer. So, be prepared for lots of uber-realism that has you endlessly repeating the phrase "yes, that is exactly me" in your head.

Secondly, Ellie Sweet, her main character, is a high-schooler turned revenge-driven novelist. She's the underdog. The one who's always left out. But she doesn't just find the strength to write through the tough times, she lets those tough times give her strength. It was Ellie who showed me that, while there are busy seasons in life when writing is pretty much a no-no, just because you're hurting doesn't mean you can't make art.

In fact, it means the exact opposite.

The Great Automatic Grammatizator and Other Stories by Roald Dahl
When I say the name Roald Dahl, I'm guessing you think of children's books. They're what he's known for, after all, and his witty, slightly gruesome style has entertained generations of kids - plus their parents - in one foul swoop.

But ... it turns out he wrote ... other stuff? 

This is a collection of Dahl's adult short stories, and - well, some of them are about as far from kids' stories as they could be without being erotica. They have this amazingly creative morbidity about them, not to mention that his character descriptions are some of the shrewdest personality observations I've ever seen. 

He turned short-storytelling into his own personal art form, basically, and reading his work opened my eyes to the fact that novels aren't the only form of writing in the universe. And, seeing as I can be spectacularly inobservant sometimes, that was a more dramatic revelation than you'd think.

The title story of the anthology also happens to be a kind of satire about how ridiculously difficult writing is. a) Hilarious, b) relateable, and c) ROALD DAHL FELT IT TOO, YOU GUYS! 

One by Sarah Crossan

O, Sarah Crossan, your writing is utterly heartwrenchingly gorgeous. But you must be an ice queen to make me cry as much as you did.

One had been on my mental TBR for a few weeks before I decided to read a few reviews and realised it was written in verse. I was skeptical, to be honest, but the reviewer in question was very enthusiastic about the format and that made me curious.

Needless to say, it was approximately brilliant.

I'd never really considered writing a book with an alternative format, but One showed me how beautiful and raw free verse can be, and ... well, I'd love to give it a try someday.

The Harry Potter Series by J.K Rowling

Ok, fine. This one was kind of predictable. But how could you read Harry Potter and not be inspired? How could you dive into the world of Hogwarts and not be absolutely spellbound (believe it or not, that pun was not intended) by the mind-numbing detail?

And don't even get me started on Pottermore.

I know I could never write anything that'll become as popular as Harry Potter. There's just no way that could happen twice in a century. But what reading it does is remind me to aim high in my detail - to know every little thing about my characters and my world and its history - so that I can create a fictional place that I'll want to escape to, if nobody else does.

In the comments: Which books have inspired you as a writer? Why do you think they do that? Where else do you go to find inspiration?

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  1. Ahahaha Roald Dahl's short stories are the best. Did you ever see the film adaptation of the landlady? I literally had nightmares. I also recall being freaked out by Lamb to the Slaughter...

    Okay but Harry Potter is actually the best thing to happen to this planet. And it totally does inspire me to be semi-productive with my school work because I just try and convince myself I'm actually going to Hogwarts.

    1. Ah yes, the Lamb to the Slaughter. I only ever read it as an exercise in English class, and frankly it was hard to get freaked out because everyone else was laughing so hard. I think I'll be steering clear of any film adaptations though - The Witches was scary enough!

      And Harry Potter productivity is most definitely a thing. If schools were built to look like Hogwarts, exam results would go through the roof as everyone tried to be the next Hermione Granger.

      Thanks for the comment, Julia.


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