Day 16: Writing like your heroes

When I first became a writer, as a young child, I wrote stories. I wrote in the form that I was most familiar with, because how else do you start out but with what you know?  But as soon as I was old enough to really write, with planning and setting and character arcs, I began to write in screenplay form.

Now, I never studied screenplay writing, and as a kid, my form didn’t matter much to me at all. It’s not as though I was going to be showing my plays to anyone who would know the difference between proper formatting and not. But that was how I wrote, even when I was so young that I had yet to use a computer and all my lines were printed in pencil.

I suspect that this was related to how much time I spent watching media during my childhood. As an Autistic kid without daycare once my mom re-entered the workforce, I raised myself on television. In every nostalgic list of 90s shows, there aren’t many that I didn’t watch regularly, which does make me wonder how it was possible, since I also went to school and slept. I loved television and movies, and still do, very much.

It seems possible in retrospect that even though I was also an avid reader, I actually learned to think in teleplay format, with dialogue and stage directions instead of descriptions, presuming that the details would take care of themselves as the story was acted out. That is certainly how I write today, in my most natural mode, even though I gave up writing scripts long ago. It’s as though I think in plays and then have to translate that into fiction as the thoughts move from my brain to the page.

So when I think about my favorite writers, it isn’t actually novelists who first come to mind. I do love many fiction writers, of course, and admire their talents, but my most beloved writers are writers of television and movies, because they tell stories that span years of my life as a viewer, and captivate me in ways that my imagination while reading a book does not.

Obviously, I can’t draw upon my favorite television writers as inspiration for writing a novel, not in the way that I can draw upon other writers within my form and genre. But I also wouldn’t know how to write without wishing that I could create characters who talk like Aaron Sorkin invented them, or that have adventures worthy of a Joss Whedon world…even though they live in books.

Joss Whedon was my first writing hero, and Aaron Sorkin is definitely my favorite writer an adult. With those things being true, I could never think that I actually write even a little like them–I’m not capable of that kind of self-esteem. They’re in a far off, separate league in my head. But I like feeling as though I have their ideas to draw from, their style to emulate just a tiny bit, as I try to create a world that I would want to enjoy as a reader. While I muddle through my first draft, that’s more than enough.

Who are your writing heroes?

Today’s word count: 2,464

Total word count: 43,465

Today’s excerpt: Elle shook her head. “That’s just it. You are a Guardian. It’s been who you are since you and Mel accepted your destiny two years ago. You can’t make it stop just because it hurts. It won’t go away if you ignore it. It’s your fate, not a stray puppy!”


Day 16: Writing like your heroes

2 thoughts on “Day 16: Writing like your heroes

  1. I grew up watching television as well simply because my parents didn’t have the time or money to look after six kids so we just watched a lot of TV. Which is probably why I love cartoons like X-men, Transformers and Ninja Turtles and cant’ get enough of the movies as an adult. I didn’t start writing till a few years ago when I finally figured out that I loved doing it so I didn’t have any writing heroes as a child. Now they are people like Melina Marchetta and J.K Rowling though I must confess that quite a few of my characters are loosely based on a Buffy like character.

    1. Toni Travis says:

      I have actually never heard of Melina Marchetta; I will look her up. It’s awesome that you draw from Buffy, though–she was a classic, stereotype-changing character. Only good can really come from that. 🙂 And I say that as someone who preferred other BTVS characters to Buffy herself.

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