I'll come up with something in a minute.

More writery thoughts

You know one of the other things I’ve had on my mind of late? Writers who have owned a concept to the point where people who have never heard of that writer still ape the concept.

Give you an example of what I mean, name a butler without thinking about it. I’m going to bet at least half of you said “Jeeves” right off the bat. If I ask for a butler that always has the solution to problems while being completely unflappable, I’d get an even higher number of Jeeves related comments. Of course Jeeves isn’t actually a butler, he’s a Gentlemen’s Personal Gentleman or Valet. However, the idea of an unflappable man servant who can handle any difficulty is more or less the invention of P.G. Wodehouse and he so totally owned it that even people who have never heard of Wodehouse or know that Jeeves is an actual character from a book know about Jeeves.

I’m also interested in someone who got an idea so well down that other authors have to either work within the confines of that style or deliberately step so wide around their ideas to avoid claims of copying that style that you can sort of see where the style is by the avoidance. It’s less powerful than the Jeeves example, but I think it still probably fits into the idea as a whole. What I find in this section is how the writers took long established ideas, with influences you can easily point to, and still made them their own.

Sexy, semi-homoerotic (or not semi and just homoerotic if you like) vampires may have existed before Anne Rice, but her writings really nailed it. In fact you have to go a long way in a vampire story not to be accused of at least being a little Lestatish now. I think Raymond Chandler did this with down on their luck private detectives to the point that all private eyes are supposed to be down on their luck and should keep a bottle of hooch in the lower right hand drawer. Syd said that Anne McCaffrey made rideable dragons her thing. Stephen King went a long way to making it okay to mix pop and classical references in the same spot.

As I say though Stoker did sexy vampires, Hammett did the less than perfect detective, and lots of authors have mixed the current with the ancient. However, each of these people went a long way to reforming the idea into something they could put a really big stamp on. I can’t speak of McCaffery’s influences because I’ve never read any of her books, but I assume they are also built on such solid foundations.

July 17, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment