Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them (P.S.)
*Cate looks up from the book*Okay, who moved the bar way up there? Francine!! I've felt for a while now that there's something missing from my writing. I'm proud of how far I've come since I began this process five years ago, but I can tell that there's a distance between where I am and where I want to be. The trouble was, I didn't know how to get there. Francine Prose's book provide something of a roadmap for me. She begins with the building blocks of stories: words. It seems simple, but it really comes down to choice of words. After words, we graduate to sentences, paragraphs, narration, gesture and other aspects of fiction. Walking through all these aspects of fiction, I realized which I've been neglecting (in a sense, writing on automatic pilot) and which I am using, but not to their full strength. But one thing I will give myself snaps for is subtext. Perhaps it's because I began my 'adult' career in fiction by taking playwrighting, in which dialogue is king. We were taught to avoid 'on the nose' dialogue in favour of words whose meaning are under the surface. While I do have the occasional literal line, now I find it easy to layer motives and meaning under my characters' words. (As an aside: a wonderful help for dialogue and subtext is Brandilyn Collins' Getting Into Character.) I am not so strong on gesture. I have too many raised eyebrows and clenched fists in my novel, and I need to learn to dig further for those personalized gestures that only Jack or Sophia or Daisy would make at that place and time. In the brief day that's passed since I finished this book, I've noticed myself becoming more observant of the people around me. Gestures and words are starting to leap out at me, perhaps not as moments from Blakeney Manor but as moments that can be filed away to be used or adapted at some future date. I was only going to borrow this book, but I think I am going to need to read this at regular intervals to keep myself sharp, so I think I'll shell out the money for the hardcover. It's definitely a keeper.