I had a hard time picking one book that had an influence on my writing. I see-sawed between To Kill A Mockingbird, Dark Lover, and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Yeah, three vastly different books, but I had to go with The Hitchhiker’s Guide.
I was in college when I first read this book. I didn’t want to read it because it wasn’t my normal genre, but a friend convinced me to give it a try. I was so glad that I did. I never expected it to be funny, never expected that I would enjoy following Arthur Dent’s adventures, but it’s one book I’ll read over and over again.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say my books are as funny as Douglas Adams’ books, but this series helped me realize that humor can be found anywhere. Between the situations the characters find themselves in, the secondary characters, and the absurdity of the story, you can’t help but laugh.
For me though, the biggest influence Adams’ book made on my writing is his use of secondary characters to add humor, tension, and background information. Who doesn’t adore Marvin the Paranoid Android? Who doesn’t find Zaphod a completely intriguing rogue? Adams is my hero simply because he gave us minor characters who aren’t minor at all.
I love writing secondary characters; as far as I’m concerned, they’re one of the best parts of a writing a book. I end up loving them almost as much (if not more) as I do the main characters. For a writer, as Adams shows in his books, secondary characters can change the entire tone of the story. Would Arthur’s journey been so humorous if he hadn’t come into contact with Marvin or Zaphod? Probably not. Oh, sure, we would’ve chuckled at the things that happen to him, but those secondary characters helped keep the humor and pacing of his story.
Don’t panic, my friends. When your story and characters seem a little stale, grab a copy of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and lose yourself in the intergalactic romp. Discover the subtle…and not-so-subtle humor laced in Adams’ writing. Humor is a great tool no matter what genre you write. Find it. Sharpen it. Use it liberally.