If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com

Our April author interviews: Perennial author Susan Wittig Albert--4/5, Sasscer Hill, horse racing insider--4/12, English historical, cozy author, TE Kinsey--4/19, Debut author, Susan Bickford--4/26.

Saturday Guest Bloggers in April: Heather Baker Weidner (4/1), Christina Hoag (4/8), Susan Boles (4/29). WWK Saturday bloggers write on 4/15--Margaret S. Hamilton and on 4/22--Kait Carson.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Warren Bull's new Lincoln mystery, Abraham Lincoln In Court & Campaign has been released. Look for the Kindle version on February 3.

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th. In addition, our prolific KM will have the following shorts published as well: "Sight Unseen" in Fish Out of Water, Guppie (SinC) anthology, just released, and "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017.

Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Once a Kappa" was published as a finalist in the Southern Writer's Magazine annual short story contest issue. Mysterical-E published her "Double Crust Corpse" in the Fall 2016 issue. "Baby Killer" will appear in the 2017 solar eclipse anthology Day of the Dark to be published this summer prior to the eclipse in August.

Linda Rodriquez has two pending book publications. Plotting the Character-Driven Novel will be released by Scapegoat Press on November 29th. Every Family Doubt, the fourth Skeet Bannion mystery, is scheduled for release on June, 13, 2017. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with Linda here in June!

Cross Genre Publications anthology, Hidden Youth, will contain Warren Bull's "The Girl, The Devil, and The Coal Mine." The anthology will be released in late November 2016. The We've Been Trumped anthology released by Dark House Press on September 28th contains Warren Bull's "The Wall" short story and KM Rockwood's "A Phone Call to the White House." KM writes under the name Pat Anne Sirs for this volume.

James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for order.

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Monday, April 4, 2011

Metamorphasis

Since I become a writer, I can’t read books uncritically anymore. When I was exclusively a reader, I consumed books at a fast pace like a hungry hippo. Reading was sheer entertainment. That element, one that I once enjoyed, is now my writing goal. When a book grabbed me, drew me into the story, and took me away from reality, I knew it. But, I didn’t understand why or how an author achieved this feat. I knew what I liked, and it wasn’t just the subject matter. The authors’ methods captivated and compelled me to read their work. Now, I read like an editor, which is sort of a drag, but I’m no longer clueless.

I need criticism after writing a piece for revision that will cut away excess and hone in on presenting the story and its characters in the best possible way. To receive criticism from others who can best judge my work, I have to give worthy criticism. So, over the last few years, I’ve trained myself to look at writing from a writer’s perspective, which examines how a writer presents a story through characterization, language, style and voice.

It’s taken me a few years to understand the concept of voice, but now that I do, I instantly hear it. An author’s creation and use of voice is my favorite element. If the voice reverbs to me after I put down the book, I know the author has created a memorable character. When I read a book anymore without voice, it’s like eating Irish chili.

Writing genre has spoiled me for reading some authors whose writing is more literary. I now look for action from the start that is central to the plot. Continual internal thoughts of a character debating some theory start to bother me if the character can’t come to a decision and makes me dislike the character because of his indecision. When this debate is the theme of the book, which most readers’ discern in the first few chapters, I put the book down rather than suffer through a philosophical discourse. By the end of the book, the character still hasn’t answered the unanswerable questions, leaving me with no conclusion, but refreshing all the aspects of the issue that I probably already knew or was exposed to in college. Then, I want to toss the book in the trash. Is that a harsh indictment? Maybe, but it’s my time and money that I’ve spent, so it’s also my right. The book hasn’t entertained, but lectured (and I’ve spent wads on educational lectures, enough already).

The characters have to appeal to me. There are subgenres of mystery where the main character hobbies, in such interests as quilting, needlepoint, glass blowing, pottery, and other crafts. As long as the subject matter aids in devolving the mystery, using crafts as a device are fine, but some, such as stamping and scrapbooking, just don’t interest me so I figure that I’ll have nothing in common with the main character. Reading books is like blind dating. Sometimes it’s a great match, other times so-so, or like the dater, the reader meets a mismatched “dud.”

I love and hate the English language, but will confine myself here to the former. Reading has always expanded my vocabulary. But if every other sentence requires me to look up a word, then I usually tire of it. It’s almost as if the author decided to mess with his readers. I’ve been a reader from early in my life and have a master’s degree. When I run into a book that has me running to the dictionary, I wonder for whom the author’ wrote? Should these books come with a rating that states, “For PhDs only” or “Crossword puzzlers’ edition?” That being said, when I come across a new word every five chapters, I’m usually delighted.

Continuous POV switches within a chapter drive me a little bats as well. When I wrote a romance chapter in my book, I hadn’t realized that I was switching POV between characters until my critique partners complained. I’m so glad they did because I dislike this swishy fro. My dislike for POV switches started with one of my (admittedly) favorite books Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey, who may have ingested substances of a dubious nature while writing it. Paragraph One contains thoughts of one character, and then is followed by the thoughts of another in the second paragraph, without identifying characters. On trust of Kesey, I went with it, figured it out and loved it. But that’s Ken Kesey, most writers aren’t of his caliber.

As a writer, what are your reading beefs? Have you re-read books that you read before becoming a writer? Are you afraid that some of your old favorites won’t now meet your standards?

8 comments:

Donnell said...

Oh, hello, Ms. Writer. Yes, the writing beast has destroyed your ability to read for pure enjoyment. It happens. Every single word you write is true. I don't call a book criticism, I call it analyzing. How did this author accomplish his storytelling by this method? Did this author yank me out because I now know head-hopping is frowned upon?

But wait. Occasionally, you will pick up an author who breaks rules and tells an outstanding story that still makes you overlook your analytical self. And when you do, you'll pick up book after book.

Do you have such an author in your life, Elaine? If you do, I suspect you're not totally ruined for reading enjoyment ;)

Warren Bull said...

I don't want to be a magician so I never want the tricks explained to me. I don't want to know the physics and misdirection employed. I want to enjoy being fooled. As a writer I do want to know the techniques in laborious detail but I also love it when I get so engaged that I stop looking behind the curtain and just go along for the ride. I cannot analyze "The Daughter of Time." I get too caught up in the story. I put down books when I have no interest in any of the characters. For me there has to be someone I find interesting (not likable) and some hint of a plot.

E. B. Davis said...

Of course I still enjoy reading! That's the whole point. But there are those few items on my list that jump off the page to annoy me. I'm reading a new installment of Mary Stanton's Angel series now, which is always a pleasure. I met her at a Malice Domestic conference. She's a quick wit when she's on a panel.

MaxWriter said...

I had to put down the last Louise Penny book I picked up. She switches POV within a paragraph! I loved the first one of hers I read, but I think I'm out of patience with her now. It's bewildering. That particular rule (don't switch POV within a scene) is there for a reason.

Edith
http://edithmaxwell.blogspot.com/

Betsy Bitner said...

I do find myself thinking "I would have done that differently" when I read. If I find myself doing it too many times I get annoyed and stop reading. I recently finished a book (non-mystery) that I loved because I was so wrapped up in the story and characters that I never was wrenched out of the story by writing/technique. Called City of Thieves by David Benioff. He's a screenwriter, too, so that may have something to do with the strength of storytelling.

Pauline Alldred said...

I like to read for enjoyment so I read the first time for the story and characters as any reader. If the book draws me in, then I go back and read to find out why.

I'm so happy that there are writers today who capture my attention from the first page--Dennis Lehane, Lisa Gardner, and Tana French, and Harlan Coben to name a few.

The modern day literary novels I had to read in English classes in college contained plenty of internal monologue but that's not emotion so why should I be involved, especially since introspection isn't what I do?

E. B. Davis said...

Thanks for your comments Edith and Betsy! I have put down books too, so I guess being a writer has made me a more discriminating reader. I often re-read a sentence and figure out how it could have been worded differently to make the sentence better. When I start doing that too much, I realize that perhaps getting my novel published might not be a pipedream. If they can do it, I can too.

morganalyx said...

I totally agree with you, EB, on authors who consistently use $50 words that I need to look up. It was the main reason I couldn't make it past page 15 of Dianetics. When authors do that, it's like they're trying to impress others with their knowledge...PASS!

Great post!