Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Best Writing Instructors

Let Your Authors Teach You How To Write:
I have always been a big fan of suspense...the kind that makes you keep flipping the pages while holding your breath.  I love good, strong characters that get inside me and make me root for them, characters that have faults and humor and insecurities.  I love listening to them talk, hear their thoughts and watch how they try and maybe fail, but continue to try.  I hate when these stories come to an end.  I want them to go on forever.  James Patterson's books do this to me as do Harlan Cobin's and J.D. Robb's and that's how I felt when I finished my latest...Iron House by John Hart.  He's a new author for me but I am definitely going to be sure to see what else he's written.  Since this is only his 4th novel, watch for this author to rise up in the ranks of suspense.

I get my books from my local library, mainly because my budget won't allow me to buy all the books I want to read.  Not even on my e-reader.  And I don't have enough bookshelves to keep them all in.  But in a few cases I have bought the paperback of a book I've read just to go back through and see how they held my interest.  Was it the characters?  Or the action?  How did they make me want to keep turning the pages?  How did they make me sit on the edge of my seat to see what would happen next?  And this is how I learn.  

I've read a lot of writing hints by popular authors from Stephen King to James Patterson and they all go back to the basics of read, read, read.  And write, write, write.  You can read all the books about how to develop characters and action and dialogue and so on, and there are a lot of good ones out there to teach you. 

But until you actually see and read an author put it all together in a good novel and experience how he does it, its just words on paper.  It's like reading about something as simple as changing your own oil.  You can read about it and think you've got it, but if you can actually watch someone do it, it makes it much easier to remember when you try it on your own.  You'll remember it a lot longer after the visual tutorial. 

So read your favorite authors, and enjoy their books, but then learn from them...learn how they got you to keep turning the pages...and how they made you love their characters...and what it is about their writing that makes you keep coming back for more of their stories.  Cause the ones you love to read are really the best teachers of writing.  Don't you agree?   

A Disappointing Read:
After reading suspense for several weeks, I'm usually in need of something a little quieter, a little more relaxing, but for just one book.  Then it's back to my favorite suspense.  This week my quiet book was the latest by Danielle Steel, Hotel Vendome.  I've read every book written by Steel and have enjoyed quite a few of them...until this one.  Her characters experience things normal people experience...not like in my suspense books.  After all, how many of us are actually going to be running from a killer.  But "normal' people can experience broken hearts or family problems.  Hotel Vendome, though, made me do something I've never done with her novels before.  I closed the book about 1/3 of the way through and I'm done with it. 

The story just didn't grab me.  It was much more showing and not telling.  The problems facing the characters just weren't that interesting.  And each problem lasted for only a few pages, then it was off describing some spectacular scene.  Not much conversation, but a lot of show.  I was actually bored with it.  And I found her repeating herself throughout the chapters I was reading.  She had described in chapter one how the male character was such a hands-on owner of this fantastic hotel...and she described it in great detail, over several paragraphs, but then she did it again in several more chapters.  It's like she thinks I've forgotten what she said and she wants to remind me...again and again.  I've noticed this a lot more in her last several books and I think this will probably be the last of her books I'll read.  I know she's a #1 best seller but in my opinion, her latest books just haven't been up to par. 

And that's just my opinion.

Recipe of the Week:
Actually I'm not going to write out a whole recipe this week but give you an addition to try.  When all my many kids were still at home, we made a lot of tacos.  Everyone was a fan.  One meal would be about 50 tacos...but then, if you've been reading my blog, you know I had a lot of kids to feed.  And we never used pre-formed hard shells.  I bought packages of flour and corn tortillas and we rolled our own.  Actually, I heated them in the skillet and my husband was in charge of filling and rolling.  We had hamburger, scrambled eggs, onion, lettuce, tomato, refried beans and sour cream.  There was just not enough room in our kitchen for everyone to do their own.  So let me give you a little example of taco night:
Me to 1st child:  How many and what kind?
1st kid:  3 corn, 2 flour
So I heated those.
My ex:  What do you want on them?
Kid:  Meat, cheese, eggs, onion, lettuce, tomato
And in a couple of minutes, the first kid is off with his.  Usually to eat in front of the TV cause our table only sat 6.
And this was repeated 8-10 times.  It usually took about 1/2 an hour to get everyone's food to them and then I could eat. 
But did you notice our addition that most people scoff at?  Scrambled eggs.  Yes, that's right.  I got that little tidbit from a neighbor of mine who was Mexican and she's the one who actually taught me how to make tacos years earlier.
Try it!  They're a great taco addition.

Random Quotes of the Day:
A friend is someone who will bail you out of jail.  A best friend is the one sitting next to you saying "boy was that fun." ~ The Maugles

When I eventually met Mr. Right I had no idea that his first name was Always. ~ Rita Rudner

You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life. - Winston Churchill

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