Via David Moles, a post by Joe Abercrombie on whether people who write fantasy ought/need to read fantasy as well. I found myself nodding at a lot of what he has to say, but particularly this bit near the end:
It’s also worth noting that there are all kinds of places you can find ideas outside of books. TV and film are full of great writing. Computer games less so, but plenty of ideas still. And then there’s, you know, life. Nothing wrong with adding a sprinkling of newer, edgier stuff from outside a genre or even a given medium to the tried and tested classics within it to produce the familiar with a twist.
Something I noticed a while back during various discussions of my “literary” influences is that I was referring as much or more to movies and TV as I was to books. This bothered me for about ten seconds, I think mainly because it suggested I wasn’t reading “enough” anymore, but then I remembered that I care a lot more about good storytelling than I do about provenance—and really, it’s not as if I haven’t always gotten ideas from odd places.
As for producing “the familiar with a twist,” there’s a part of me that wants to object and say “No, no, you should strive for breathtaking originality at all times,” but just the other night Lisa and I were talking about how our two latest TV obsessions—House, M.D. and Burn Notice—are both very formulaic shows that manage to avoid feeling formulaic because they’re so well written. So, never mind.
Bonus link: This morning jaylake offers a pointer to a Wiki of Story Tropes.