Monday, August 29, 2011

Writing Better...Lessons we can learn from books that annoy us.

Artist: Henry (O'Hare) Clive
I was going to title this blog, pet peeves, but realized that's way too negative.  Not my thing.

Instead, I got to thinking, why not do a series on writing since a lot of my blog visitors are authors as well as readers?  Where do the pet peeves come in you may ask?  Well, nowhere, 'cuz honestly I don't want to focus on what we don't like.  But some books that are otherwise wonderful can be really annoying and usually there is a "craft of writing" reason why.  I didn't use to think so, but I'm such an analyzer, I've come to see a whole lot of patterns.

So, once a month?  Articles on the craft of what I love to do.

And trust me, I'm not immune to my own analysis.  In fact, the whole reason I decided to write this series of posts/articles is that every time I recognize this pattern, I go looking for it in my own books in an attempt to improve my own writing.

From Chemistryland
This time, I'm going to focus on the "Character Revelation."  It's this amazing moment when you are writing and your character reveals something about her or himself that you didn't know before, but makes so much sense and makes elements of the story work even better.  I adore this moment and practically do the party dance around my office when it happens.  It's like a major case of "Eureka!" and other cool idioms like that to evince happy shock.

The downside?  When the author does not go back to the beginning of the book with her editing pencil to make sure that new revelation is reflected in the character's reactions, dialogue and relationships.  I'll be reading happily along and suddenly, I'm witnessing the author's moment of "Eureka!" only I shouldn't be.  I shouldn't know this is the moment she realized this particular thing about this character because the rest of the book should fit, but it doesn't.

And not to put too fine a point on it, but I want to tear my hair out and toss what otherwise could have ended up being a favorite book.

I may have jarred my readers a time or two with this one - without realizing as I'm sure most of us do.  But several years ago, Debbie Macomber gave me a piece of advice about revisions.  She said that when making revisions for an editor, it was best to do a whole book edit, rather than focus on only the area needing the change.  I've tried to apply that to my own edits as well and my "character revelations".  It makes for a more cohesive book, I think. :)

But deadlines put time constraints on us all and we can't always do the whole book revision - just, please...if your character gives you a revelation, don't let me tell from reading the book the moment it came to you. :)

Hugs and happy reading and writing!

This week's question for discussion:  what's the newest book in your TBR pile (folder)? What's the oldest and why is it still there?


Judy said...

Good point, Lucy. My newest TBR is Carla Capshaw's THE CHAMPION, a Steeple Hill Inspirational Historical, and it isn't going to be in pile much longer. In fact, it's the top of the pile, starting today. Longest in the pile is Stephen King's ON WRITING. I keep meaning to read it, but there are so many that arrive in my pile that simply can't wait.

catslady said...

The book that I'm currently reading is Genteel Spirits by Alice Duncan. I just received it in the mail from winning it in her monthly contest. I really do try to get to any wins first if possible. The oldest is the entire Outlander series. I knew this was a series and I was slowly collecting the series to read in order bad had no idea there were so many and now I still need the latest and I'm not sure if that's it or not. It's a little overwhelming because there's quite a bit of reading there and I keep sneaking in other reads lol.

catslady said...

ok I should have proofed that - "but" not "bad" lol. I was probably thinking what a bad idea it was to wait!

Virginia said...

My newest book would have to be Leah and the Bounty Hunter, just got it. My oldest book would have to be The Wolf and the Dove by Kathleen Woodiwiss and the reason its still there is because it has really small print and I have trouble reading small print. I will read it one day though.

Sherry said...

okay I have several newest on my TBR pile that I got at the same time. I hate that Borders is closing but I did get some good buys.

Kelly Armstrong -Spellbound
Carrie Vaughn - Kitty's Big Trouble
Sherrilyn Kenyon - Retribution
Lora Leigh - Midnight Sins

as for the one longest on my TBR pile I really don't know. I have quite a few because I will get in the mood for historical, suspense, or paranormal and read a slew of them and then change to something different. Or read something by an author I really like and then buy up old books in a series ..... uumm yeah I just like books. Is there a 12 step program for bibliophiles?

Judy said...

Sherry makes me laugh, but I'm not sure I want a 12-step program... I mean, who would I give up? LOL!

Anne said...

The Demon's Surrender by Sarah Brennan has been on there the longest. It's the last book in a trilogy and the other two sat in the pile for a long time too. I really liked them, but the blurbs didn't appeal to me. (I'm also a little tired of YA.)

I got 19 books at the library the last time I went, I immediately read Death on Tour by Janice Hamrick which was an amusing mystery about a tour group in Egypt and the murder and mayhem that affects them. A nice little book. I love mysteries but they aren't promoted as much as romance and paranormals so I pick up less of them.

Jane said...

The newest book in my TBR pile is Christina Dodd's "Secrets of Bella Terra." The oldest is Margaret Carroll's "A Dark Love." I just never got around to reading it and for some reason or another it's not calling out to me.

Lucy Monroe said... we may all need a 12 step program for compulsive readers, but none of us *wants* one. LOLOL You know when I looked at my own TBR pile, and realized which books had been there the longest...I couldn't tell you why they were, other than I just wasn't in the mood to read them, yet feel that one day I will be. My latest read is a gay romance, "Something about Angel" by JM Cartwright...a very talented author that I'm now going to buy the backlist of. A truly fab romance with really engaging characters and not tons of sex so the story gets lost.

Maureen said...

My newest book in the TBR is It's Always Been You by Victoria Dahl and I have no idea of the oldest book since there's a bunch of older books in the pile.

CrystalGB said...

My newest tbr is Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison. The oldest is Shanna by Kathleen Woodiwiss. One of the first romances I read. :)

Di said...

My newest book in my TBR pile are the last two Nora Roberts Wedding quartet books. And the oldest is probably something that I'm holding off on reading until I fill out a trilogy or series.