What Book Made You Want To Become A Writer?

This is a blogging prompt from Duolit, a two-person writing team who provide information about self-publishing, although a lot of their information is helpful for writers of all stripes.

I wrote a little as a kid but didn’t read a lot. Teachers just couldn’t get a handle on my tastes, which leaned more towards fantasy than the ridiculous “realistic” stories they tried to shove down my throat. I was more interested in magic and unicorns and princesses than about little boys who went on a journey to find their missing bikes. Reading and writing, while they interested me, were more of a curiosity than a real hobby. I still preferred to play elaborate make-believe games with friends rather than write the stories in my head.

And then, Harry Potter happened. The first movie came out when I was eight and I immediately turned my attention to the books. At this time, only the first four were out, but they sparked an insatiable thirst for the written word that to this day has not ceased. My mother dutifully lined up for hours on the release day of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which was quite possibly my favourite of the books released up to that point. Harry’s struggles with a hostile learning environment, a government and media determined to discredit him, and his own psyche working against him made for a compelling story when Rowling wove in the magic.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was the book that really inspired me to write. My first lengthy works were terrible fanfictions that I wrote a few chapters in before abandoning. Keeping with the pattern of earlier years, the best parts of the story remained in my head. I just couldn’t force them onto the page. When I was about twelve, I started writing a particular fic with an original character stepping in as Harry’s love interest. I never completed the story, but I did come away from it with new knowledge and a lively character I couldn’t stop thinking about.

My brush with the Harry Potter fanfic community taught me some important aspects of writing, like how to correctly write dialogue and the importance of smooth transitioning as to not give the reader whiplash. Writing fanfiction, with the aid of a few moderators on the fanfic website I had chosen specifically for its guidelines, in essence, taught me how to write.

Later, when I was fifteen, I took that original character from my abandoned fanfiction and began to write my own story. Although I’m still working on it now (it’s the one I just had to start over), this book has me in a vice-like grip. I have to finish it, and I will. I’ve come too far to give up now.

So, that’s my story. What about yours?

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22 thoughts on “What Book Made You Want To Become A Writer?

  1. It’s so exciting that Harry Potter has inspired a new generation of incredibly talented fantasy writers. I think it’s great that fan fic let you explore your talents and hone your skills before branching out into your own original work–it’s like a musician singing cover songs, it’s a perfect transition. I love all the Harry Potter books and I hope that more and more teachers will use them to get kids interested in reading and writing rather than forcing some of those bland old “classics” (that don’t deserve the title) on uninterested readers. You have great insight Ann Elise, thank you for sharing it with us on Duolit! :-)

  2. The moment I realised the books I read were written by real people, the dream of creating stories was planted in my mind. It took till I was 19 to see that this could be a reality.

    Harry Potter was a huge influence on me. J.K. Rowling was the first author that I saw as a person and not a name on a book cover.

    • I’m almost 19 :)

      J.K. Rowling is so full of win, if you’ll forgive the internet-speak. She’s the reason about half my literature class from last year were even taking the class.

  3. Little Women. I loved that Jo became a writer, not only to make money for her family but because she’d always loved writing for her sisters. Later, the diaries of writers like Anais Nin, May Sarton, and Virginia Woolf showed me that a writing life is possible.

  4. Goosebumps and Spooksville were the ones that inspired me to write. But it was The Saga of Darren Shan that made me want to be a writer. I was already writing horror stories but the Saga made me decide that I actually want to publish them one day. I wanted to be able to create fear and gore just like Darren Shan and see people enjoy it. :) Prior to that I would have been horrified at the thought of publishing. I wrote but it was just for my eyes.

  5. Ann Elise– thanks so much for the versatile blogger award. I will post on it soon! I have been SWAMPED with work and not posting much (I’m thinking of writing a post about it, oddly enough).

    I love the comments on this post so far. I think J K Rowling made a lot of people realize that “regular” people could write well and be successful at it. That you didn’t need a fancy degree to be a writer. I also agree with the comment about Little Women– Jo was my favorite and I wanted to be her so badly. But it’s hard to pin down one book that made me want to be a writer.

    • You’re welcome. As for Rowling, people tend to enjoy stories about ordinary people accomplishing the extraordinary. It took all the above ramble for me to pin down exactly which book was my biggest inspiration. I went into the post intending to write how the entirety of Harry Potter inspired me, and then I found the heart of the matter. Fancy that :)

  6. For me, it was reading a book that a guy I met at my church wrote. I was so impressed that a regular fellow from my town had written a book! I had a revelation about my own life after reading that book. And then I thought, “If he can write a book, so can I.” Shortly thereafter, he started a writers group. What I found out was that he just simply had enough money to have the book printed via self-publishing mode and he hadn’t actually sold any of those books, didn’t have a publisher, an agent, etc. The church just happened to have a copy he had donated. But never mind that! He wrote it. I read it. It helped me. Again, I thought, “I can do that!” My husband and I stayed in his writers group for two years, then took over the group for another two after our mentor lost his writing groove. When we moved a distance too far away, we handed over the reins and gave up leading the group, which still meets monthly. I now have my own humor blog and I do freelance writing and am still hoping to write a book, sooner or later. Then another. Then another. Then another. I can do that.

  7. All the stories kept swimming in my hand, ideas were clashing and there was no outlet. Friends told me I write well. So I wrote and I wrote and I wrote, just for myself and mainly journals. I now have a memoir and a publisher and hope to be published by September this year in print and e-format. I’ve just started on a short story. Just going to keep writing.

  8. What a fun and well-writen blog! I have always written. I started a blog in 2007, but it was the continuous practice of writing that has made me want to be a writer. The more I do it, the more I want to do it. If we are to go back to my teenage years, then I would say my first favorite writers were Stephen King and Pearl S. Buck….but they didn’t inspire me to write, just showed me reading could be fun no matter what genre I picked up. It’s only over the years of finding I have something to say and wanting others to relate that has pushed my desire to write over the edge…we’ll see where it goes. On today’s blog post I talk to myself about ambition vs. reality. We all need to have a chat with ourselves once in awhile!

    • Aww, shucks :) Practice is good. Fun, even, on the right days. I really need to give Stephen King a try sometime. I keep meaning to and forgetting. I shall look at your blog when I’m more awake.

  9. Might have been (hold your nose if necessary) Carolyn Keene’s Nancy Drew books (yeah, I know, Carolyn Keene was a team of writers). At first I wanted to *be* Nancy Drew; later on, I figured out I wanted to write Nancy Drew.

    Later than that I figured that I have zero talent for mystery writing, and have gone in other directions, but I’m so glad I am surrounded by words, in one way or another. The Harry Potter books are chock full of terrific storytelling, glad they sucked you in!

    • Nancy Drew probably inspired a lot of writers to get into the game, given the books were so popular. I remember playing a computer game based on her books when I was still too short to ride rollercoasters. As for having zero talent in mystery writing, neither do I. My characters may uncover mysteries during the course of the story, but setting things on fire seems to take precedence.

  10. I couldn’t possibly come up with one book. To be honest, I think the biggest reason I started wanting to write as a career is just the complete and total absence of books I wanted to read.

    That’s not to say I don’t read – I do. However, the genre I’m most interested in is just not represented. I want to read novels with literary value, especially fantasy novels, that have a lot of dirty, rotten, explicit sex.

    Since I was having such a hard time finding it, I decided to write it!

    • My books sometimes end up as such a ridiculous mish-mash of genres it’s no wonder there’s not much out there like them. It has been said we should write the book we most want to read :)

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