Hey, everyone. You may be shocked to see a post from me in the middle of the week*, but as I said before, I am going to try to be a bit more active on my website. So I did a lot of thinking, and basically I came up with one idea: The Top 5 ____
The Top 5 (I’m going to call it TT5 for the time being) is exactly what it sounds like: a top five list. I could make a top 5 over anything; You could see “Top 5 Favorite Novels” one week and “Top 5 Dish Detergent Brands” the next. We’ll see how this goes with time, but for now I just decided to go with something near and dear to my heart: Writing.
As you can already tell from the title, the first installment of TT5 revolves around influential people: authors, to be more precise. Every person on this list has affected me in one way or another…so much that I still think about them to this day. Don’t expect people like Dickens or Chaucer; I said influential to me, not your college English professor. I was going to rank them in terms of most influential, but I think sequential is better. You’ll see who influenced me early on all the way up to my go-to-guy at the moment.
1. E.B. White
I was first introduced to the work of Mr. White as a small child. Can anyone guess the book? Yepp. Charlotte’s Web was the first book I can totally recall my mother reading to me. We’d sit down on summer days and she’d read a chapter or two and I would be lost in the world of Wilbur the pig. Some of my fondest memories come from that book. I’d say E.B. White gave me my first exposure to the never ending train of awesomeness that is literature. He may have been the first person to ever make me think “I want to write stories, too.”
2. D.J. MacHale
I highly doubt that any of you know who this guy is. D.J. MacHale is the author of the Pendragon series. I read a lot of book series (series-es?) in middle school. I read Alex Rider, Harry Potter, Artemis Fowl, Inkheart, you name it. Nothing ever stuck out as much as the adventures of Bobby Pendragon and his good buddy Mark as they attempted to save the universe from Saint Dane. Harry Potter is near and dear to my heart, but I love the Pendragon books more. MacHale taught me a lot about voice and first person-narrative. I write a lot in first person to this day, and I blame/thank him for that.
3. Stephen King
When I hit about 7th grade, I walked into a used bookstore that recently opened up in my town. I saw the book Everything’s Eventual on the shelf. It was on sale for like 2 dollars, so I asked my mom if she would buy it for me. She had refused to let me read SK when I was younger, (good for her) but she decided to let me give it a whirl. I took that book on a camping trip with me and finished it in 2 days. I had never read anything like that before; I was absolutely blown away. I became an instant King fan and quickly racked up a collection of his work (and I am by no means anywhere near done with it). The next book I read after that was It, which remains my favorite novel of all time to this day. I’ve easily read over 20 King novels since, and I pick up something new (skill-wise) each time. I’ve learned about characters and motives, dialogue and dialect, conflict… I read SK all through middle school, and still keep up with his stuff today. He has the ability to scare me like no one else; everything I need to know about horror writing, I learn from him.
4. George R.R. Martin
I got wrapped up in Game of Thrones-mania shortly after the first season of the show went on sale (I think this was roughly 2011?). I saw all the buzz from Amazon, so I began to give it a look. When I found out it was based off a book series, the first thing I did was buy the first four books in a box set. I devoured A Game of Thrones. I took in books two and three a bit more slowly, but I still loved them. I have not read A Feast for Crows or A Dance With Dragons yet, but I fully intend to. I’ve never seen anyone write description quite like George R.R. Martin. The guy can write 500 words about a wooden table and still make it moderately interesting. I will admit that he’s windy at times, but that doesn’t subtract from his overall brilliance. The biggest and best thing I took away from Martin, though? Spare no one. The man has literally made my jaw drop numerous times simply because he is ruthless. He is the master of the plot twist, plain and simple. No one does it better, and I only hope to emulate it in my own work.
5. Joe Hill
I first heard of Joe Hill thanks to this list. I will admit that the fact that he was Stephen King’s son pushed me to read his stuff in the beginning, but I think it’s safe to say that son has surpassed (or is in the process of surpassing) father. I have read all three of Hill’s novels, and each one haunts me in a different way. The characters are unique and memorable, and each story is a roller coaster of emotion from start to finish. No one comes up with better story ideas than JH. Seriously, go into a bookstore and read the back of one of his books; If you don’t walk out of said store with that book in your hand, then you, my friend, have a problem. Even if for some ridiculous reason the book doesn’t sound appealing, buy it anyway. I can promise you won’t regret it. Hill has taught me more about language than anyone on this list. I’ve been in the middle of one of his books and just sat back and thought to myself “Wow, I never would have thought to use that. This guy’s good.” He’s also taught me how to embrace my inner geek and stuff. Also, he basically runs twitter, so it’d be a smart idea to follow him.
So there ya have it. It was tough to pin down those 5, but I think I hit the nail on the head. Expect more TTF soon. Feel free to leave suggestions for it in the comments! I’m off to watch AHS: Asylum on Netflix while I cover my eyes and cower like a little girl.
*The initial post says mid week because I started this on like a Tuesday. I just now got around to finishing it, but I really liked the way it opened up so I didn’t want to overhaul it.