Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Mentor Authors

What am I reading now?  If I Should Die (Amy Plum Revenants #3)
Annnd . . . what do I think of it so far?  Would you die to save someone else? How about someone you don't know? Since this is book three, I can't tell much without creating a spoiler for the other two books. That said, let me add that this is a great ending for a gripping series. I've enjoyed these characters so much and I hate to see them go, but I loved the ending. Here's a bit of the blurb from the first book. And since I'm telling you about them now that they're all out, you won't have to wait a year between each book to read the series. You're welcome!

In the City of Lights, two star-crossed lovers battle a fate that is destined to tear them apart again and again for eternity. When Kate Mercier's parents die in a tragic car accident, she leaves her life--and memories--behind to live with her grandparents in Paris. For Kate, the only way to survive her pain is escaping into the world of books and Parisian art. Until she meets Vincent.Kate soon realizes that if she follows her heart, she may never be safe again.

Mentor Authors: Read to Write
A few years ago I was sitting in a conference session, given by Leigh Bale, discussing how to write about a villain when it isn't a person, meaning it might be a thing, a place, a disease, a weather condition, but the thing that stuck with me is not a new concept about an antagonist, although the class had many insightful ideas that are still in my notes, but the idea I worked with this week was: If you are going to write you must read.

I heard that since that time--and I've got that down! I'm definitely a reader, voracious, relentless, nose in a book, book store addict.

However, she suggested that we read with a pencil and write down our impressions about what the author is doing to create the story and do this with a lot of books so we will be able to recognize and create our own stories from insights we glean from these mentor authors.

She was not advocating copying the story, only internalizing the craft.

I took the challenge these past couple of weeks and reread some of my favorite books. They are from different authors, different publishing houses although all national publishers, and they are all in different genres; high fantasy, romance, chick lit, paranormal fantasy, historical inspirational.

Here's a little sample of what I found:
theme was apparent by chapter 2
love interest was known by chapter 3
romance started with admiring but noticing why it just wouldn't work
antagonist/villain made an overt move by chapter 4
inner demons made significant complications in each chapter from one or more characters
one face-to-face confrontation with antagonist before the midpoint
inner demons of 2 main characters collide just after the lowest point for the protagonist causing them to be forced apart
all stories resolved the compelling story problem before resolving the relationship problem

These might be a coincidence or they might be what our society intrinsically wants in a satisfying story. I'm not saying that we need to write stories in a stilted way, using rigid guidelines, hitting predictable plot points with the precision of synchronized swimming. What I am saying is that while doing this exercise, I kept having HUGE ah-has about missing pieces in the stories Deanna and I have written and thoughts about how to strengthen those stories.

So, our stories are going back into revision, and this time I have some definite ideas how to focus my rewriting efforts thanks to these mentors!


Eden "Kymele" Mabee said...

Hmmm! I read through your list here and it is like... "I never would have expected that particular pattern of events. (makes note to go reread some personal favorites now...)

Mind if I pass this along?

Lisa Swinton said...

very insightful. thanks!

Renae W. Mackley said...

Books as writing mentors is a great idea. Thanks for bringing this to my attention and for a sample of your insights. It helps me learn what to look for.
PS Let me know when you've finished your story. I want to read it!