Monday, March 30, 2009

Book Reportage

I'm happy to report that I've read real, published books since last we talked! I also made the realization that I do quite a bit of beta reading and critique group reading and that those reading activities shouldn't be discounted. True, they are not published books, so they don't contribute to my yearly totals, but it's still reading.

3. The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch by Joseph Delaney. This was a great read. Fast, too, because I got completely sucked into the world of being a Spook's apprentice. Very nicely done, Mr. Delaney. Very nicely done.

It's the story of a 13 year old boy who's learning how to deal with witches, boggarts and other things that go bump in the night. An exciting read.

4. So then I read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. It was pretty good. I was intrigued for the first 200 pages or so, and then it sort of stalled for me. But the narrator was interesting and the story was compelling enough to keep reading. The thing I liked the most was the literary style of writing. For example:

It felt as though the whole globe was dressed in snow. Like it had pulled it on, the way you pull on a sweater. Next to the train line, footprint were sunken to their shins. Trees wore blankets of ice.

As you might expect, someone had died.

I've really been paying attention to what I read, what strikes me, what I really, really like. And sentences like these are brilliant. I really need to learn to write like this. I love it. Here's another bit from The Book Thief.

The last time I saw her was red. The sky was like soup, boiling and stirring. In some places, it was burned. There were black crumbs, and pepper, streaked across the redness.

Both of those passages conjured such great imagery for me. Other moments of brilliance were sprinkled throughout, so while I grew tired of plot at about page 200, I was able to press on and finish.

Because of the writing itself.

I read Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr last year, so it doesn't count, but she had this same style of literary writing mixed with an interesting story. Not too purple, but enough to stun you with the power of the words.

I so want to write like that.

5. Maximum Ride, The Final Warning by James Patterson. Okay, okay, I admit, I still have about 50 pages in this one. But it's a fast read, so I'll be done by the end of the day. I love the way Mr. Patterson weaves together the present tense commentary of the narrator with the past tense telling of the story. This is something I *love* and am trying to do in a novel I've written.

So here's my question, and it's really several. What books have you read where you fold down the pages because of the writing? Not necessarily the story, but the actual writing on the page? I need to read those books. Also, how have you decided what kind of writer you want to be? Do you want to write the gripping passage about a single color? Or are you the type that just writes what needs to be written? I'm a little of both. I'm trying to be more literary, but sometimes that's a hard mix with the sarcasm I've got going on.

*Snarf, snarf, snarf*

So how to you balance what you're writing? Some of everything in the book? Different styles for different stories?

See? Told you I had a lot of questions.


Michelle D. Argyle said...

Good questions! I used to think I could write only poetic lyrical stuff, but as I write more and more I see that it is the work itself that shows me what it needs to be. My first book is literary and slow and deliberate. It's beautiful. It unfolds like a poem. But my second book is fast and clips along. There's not a lot of room to stick in all that description and literary layers. I've tried, but it just doesn't work for the story I'm telling.

I don't know if that makes any sense, but it certainly is a revelation to me. I have a voice. I have a style. But in the end, the novel and the characters kind of take over. I guess that's a good thing. :)

Megan said...

My writing is usually in the poetry form, since my brain only holds small bits of info at a time, but the books I most love to READ are ones where I fold down the page...or go and buy a copy I can write in. Like, "It's been snowing like crazy feels like God has pushed the mute button on the world." Love that.

Unknown said...

I'm still discovering what kind of a writer I am. I definitely think I'm too sarcastic to be very literary, but I can definitely appreciate books that have such beautiful passages in them. Those sections move like music can and really show the power of the pen. Classic authors come to mind mostly. Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, Thomas Hardy - Tess of the D'Urbervilles is one of my favorites.

I write fantasy because that's what I enjoy reading the most. I used to hold that life was a muck with reality and I wanted to escape it when I read. I've since branched out and enjoy many other genres, but fantasy is still a nice escape from reality, but do I write gripping passages or just say what needs to be said? Probably the latter. I talk a lot, but I'm also pretty matter-of-fact. I don't know. Maybe it's time for a little self-evaluation.

The books you listed are definitely going on my "to read" list.

Danyelle L. said...

My writing usually tends to reflect the story. I do have a certain voice that remains the same regardless of which story I'm writing, but the exact flavor of the writing depends on the story.

*hangs head*

Usually I'm just the person recording the story. I don't usually make those kinds of decisions consciously, they just sort of happen.

Anonymous said...

Okay - your writing has had a lot of influence in my style. But for published books...I also like Melissa Marr and Cassandra Clare. Their style is beautiful. Lisa McMann's style took me a while to get used to, but it must have had an influence, 'cause I see it creeping up from time to time in my writing.

Your questions made me laugh, though. (its the twin thing again...)I was totally thinking about this over the weekend - as I was reading an adult fiction book (shocking I know) and finding myself critiquing the writing - for good and not-so-good reasons...

I find I pay a lot of attention to writing style now, though like Lady Glamis said - the novel often dictates style to me...I just try to keep up!

Great Post!!!

ND_Green said...

My writing style is kind of schizo. It can be all over the place. Maybe because my reading tastes are all over the place. I do like stream of consciousness more than I'd like to like it.

And recently, I've noticed that a lot of my writing is kind of depressing Hm. I guess I'm kind of a downer. Ah well. Maybe that'll change.

But there are happy/funny parts! And (mostly) happy endings. I defended myself from -- myself. Okay. I'm done here.

And obviously, I have a tendency to ramble...

*Off to re-read that post on how to make a good blog comment.*

Annie Louden said...

I'm not sure what my writing style is. I guess I'd hope for literary, but I don't know.

I really have a problem with that term, literary. There can be genre books that have literary language. And I'm sure there is literature with simple sentences.

I would say my favorite genre to read is "non-genre." But that's not a genre. Contemporary mainstream? Ugh, I hate all these words. And this comment is turning into a blog post, so I should wrap it up.

Anyway, for sarcasm in what I would call a literary novel, I HIGHLY recommend Bryan Charles' GRAB ON TO ME TIGHTLY AS IF I KNEW THE WAY. I read it last winter and laughed forever.

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