So, last week, or the week before, I was reading a blog. The blogger was ranting about this, that, and that and this, and a whole lot of other stuff. Fine. Dandy. Not a problem. Then, the blogger stated that he/she was the first person to use a particular writing technique . . . or something to that effect.
I think not.
In fact, I'd used something similar more than once.
OMG . . . I'm psychically plagiarizing!
No. I'm. Not.
The whole post started my brain cells synapsing. In fact, they were doing the synapsy-dance thing.
The end result: the influence of writing.
I firmly believe that every single thing I read . . . influences my writing AND eventually, permeates my writing to a certain extent.
We all know there are no new ideas. There are only ideas used over and over and over and over and over again . . . with a unique twist we, as writers, can call our own.
We should also know that what we read influences our writing in some way, shape, or form. It happens.
So, if someone writes a story about dragons that communicate telepathically with humans . . . well, they've been influenced, most likely, by Anne McCaffrey (Dragonriders of Pern - LOVE IT!) or some other story they've read that used a similar idea.
Tolkien set the stage for Elves. Seriously, people, he did. My image of Elves is firmly set in Middle Earth. When I write about Elves . . . they're influenced by Tolkien's imagery. I can't help it. I forever see Elves as tall, somewhat ethereal, individuals. I don't see them as small, pixie like beings . . . and I don't write about them in that way.
Tolkien influenced my concept of Elves. It happens.
The whole point is . . . while I'd love to take sole credit for something, in reality, I really can't when it comes to writing. I can take credit for a great concept and a great story. I can't take credit for comparing a relationship to a flower. Many, many writers have been there, done that, and have multiple t-shirts to prove it. It's been done before.
I can't take credit for telepathic dragons. I might use them in some fantasy novel in the future, or a story idea that's outlined but hasn't gone anywhere, but I can't claim credit for the original concept or say I'm the first to have telepathic dragons in a story.
My imagery of dragons was firmly established by the brilliance of Anne McCaffrey . . . just as my imagery of Elves was firmly established by Tolkien. Oh, and he established my imagery of dwarves as well.
In the end, I can take the influence of everything I read, and acknowledge that influence in what I write. I don't live in a vacuum. I don't NOT read books. I devour books. An author's irreverent and quirky writing style might inspire me to try something similar. An author's long, narrative descriptive passages might inspire me to try the same thing. Then again, it might not. If my Elves are tall and my Dragons telepathic, I can acknowledge, to myself and others, that the writings of Tolkien and McCaffrey influenced my Elves and Dragons. If I don't acknowledge the influence of all that I have read, and all that I will read, am I not lying to myself?
Hmmm . . .