I spent at least half of my childhood convinced I was going to grow up to be a professional author. In fourth grade, my best friend and I decided that we were going to start our own series of children’s books. He would draw the illustrations, and I would write (although neither of us were particularly talented). This led to many recesses and lunch breaks working on our first “book,” a bizarre story involving talking animals that have special powers and go on small adventures. Growing up, I always tried to write stories of my own and although I had many ideas, I never had the ability to follow through on them and often abandoned them midway.
When I saw this week’s topic, it brought me back to my childhood wish of being a professional writer. Although writing is one of my strengths, I’m not really sure that extends to creative writing. I definitely wish I had the abilities of some of my favourite authors!
Top 5 Wednesday is a meme created by Gingerreadslainey on Youtube, and is now hosted by Sam at ThoughtsOnTomes. The official GoodReads group with the weekly topics can be found here.
1) Jodi Picoult
It’s no secret by now that Jodi Picoult is my favourite author. I would love to have her ability to tackle complex topics from a variety of viewpoints. Jodi Picoult takes controversial issues, and crafts a story that includes such a range of characters that it is nearly impossible for me to tell her own personal biases. I also have a lot of respect for the amount of research she puts into each book to make sure they are as accurate as possible. Her characters feel so real that I sometimes forget that they are not real people. Like all authors, some books are better than others, but even my least favourites tend to be very strong. I would love to have J.K. Rowling’s ability to to manage difficult topics so sensitively and realistically, while avoiding her own biases.
2) J.K. Rowling
I really admire J.K. Rowling’s ability to create such an intricate and detailed world, and especially how she manages to tie together seemingly insignificant details and characters from previous books. A character who is mentioned in passing in the first Harry Potter book, who seems like no more than just a random name, often later becomes an important figure. It takes a lot of forethought and planning to pull that off, and I love how J.K. Rowling was able to bring it all together so smoothly. In my own attempts to write stories, I tend to get stuck on specifics and stop writing until I can sort things out, which sometimes means abandoning things if I can’t find a good solution. I would love to have J.K. Rowling’s ability to plan ahead and make such strong connections, as well as to build such a fascinating world.
For those who don’t know, Daniel Handler is the real author behind the Lemony Snicket character who wrote A Series of Unfortunate Events. I think it takes a lot of talent to create this whole persona of a mysterious author who is a character himself in the books, and I love the series for the blend of intelligent writing, interesting (and strange) characters, and humour. Aside from the series, Daniel Handler has also written several books under his own name which are great as well. I love how he wrote a children’s series which treated the children who read it as well as the younger characters as competent and intelligent people who were able to understand the story and the jokes. I would love to have Daniel Handler’s ability to play with language and create a story that is so funny and so serious at the same time.
Audrey Niffenegger hasn’t written very many books yet, but I love her writing style! I fell in love with The Time Traveler’s Wife as soon as I read it, partly because of the intriguing concept but mostly because of the beautiful writing. I love how Audrey Niffenegger takes on storylines that are kind of complex and weird, but presents them in a way where the story does not seem so impossible. Even when the events that are happening are strange, they are written so well that they seem completely real and plausible. I’m not even sure I can put into words exactly what it is about her writing style that I love (and maybe that’s why I would love to write like her), but it is so easy for me to get absorbed into her stories. I would love to have Audrey Niffenegger’s general ability to write so beautifully.
I’ve only just realized that Suzanne Collins had another series before The Hunger Games. It was a middle grade series called the Underland Chronicles, which I’d never heard of and never read (and to be fair, probably won’t read at this point). I avoided The Hunger Games for a long time because it was so overhyped, even though my mom, who rarely reads YA but loves fantasy, kept highly recommending it. It wasn’t until after I saw the first movie that I decided to give it a chance, and all three books quickly became favourites. I loved how Suzanne Collins struck a perfect balance between action and character development, in a completely believable world. Her characters were all so well-written, especially Katniss. I thought this was by far one of the strongest YA dystopian series I’ve ever read, possibly because it was the first, but the writing style really made it stand out. I would love to have Suzanne Collins’ ability to balance action and emotion/character development.