Sunday, January 31, 2010

Learning writing from reading fiction--good and bad

Besides the enjoyment we get from reading a good book, there's nothing more delightful than coming across an author who has used some of the same approach YOU have. In my first book, I include excerpts from the book my MC (main character) is writing, so it was fun to find an author who included excerpts from a book her MC was reading. That book was written by another character in the book.

I experienced a sense of vindication when I stumbled upon Joanne Dobson's The Maltese Manuscript and saw those excerpts. I liked her writing and MC enough that I will now go back to the library to read the earlier books in the series. I thank God daily for the public library, otherwise I'd be broke. I enjoyed Dobson's skewering of academia, as well as the mystery. Her MC is a professor working toward tenure in the literature department of a small, elite college in the East.

Another book I read recently I will not name. It was one of those not so good books. The writer had alternated chapters between two characters, both speaking in the first person. I felt like a ping pong ball reading that one. It reinforced advice I'd been given not to split my book between two characters, although I was writing first, then third person as I alternated. I finally figured it was diluting the impact of my MC's POV. At least I picked up on that before I tried to publish the thing.

If you're writing fiction, read it. The good, the bad, but not the ugly. No one has to go that far.

1 comment:

  1. Reading is like a drug to me...I can't get enough.

    "If you don't have the time to read, you don't have the time or the tools to write. "
    - Stephen King