Monday, March 21, 2011

Lesson One....

So what makes a novel great?  I mean truly great?  Why do you stay up until the wee hours of the morning reading some novels, knowing that you need to get up and go to work in the morning, while other novels simply put you to sleep?  Why do you ignore your family, your job, your very life to find out what happens next in one book, while another is simply a snooze fest?

Well, obviously part of it is simply what interests you.  For instance, Tom Clancy is considered a brilliant author but I just can't make it through a single chapter of one of his books, and Stephanie Meyers is - well, personally, I don't think she's a great author, but I really enjoyed her books.  Why don't I think she's a great author?  Because I enjoyed her books once.  But when I went back to read them again, they were torture.  I just could not bring myself to read them.  They were awful (IMHO). 

So what was it that made them unreadable, compared to other books that I can read over and over again?  Patricia Briggs, Adrian Phoenix, CE Murphy, Faith Hunter, Eileen Wilkes... And of course the greats: Ayn Rand, Gabriel García Márquez,  Fyodor Dostoevsky, Robert Heinlein....these authors can be read over and over again.  It's that ability to pull the reader into the book.  Each time the reader finds something new, feels the same excitement for the characters, and for me, at times, I find myself pushing even harder to get to that next scene, not to find out what happens but because I know what happens and I can't wait for the character to reach that next point in the book. 

*This* is what makes a great author.  This ability to pull the reader into the book and make them a part of the scene.  For me, with the Twilight books, that second time, I just didn't care.  And I don't know why.  So that's what I think I'm going to do over the next couple of weeks.  Figure out why I care about some characters, and not so much about others.

I'm also going to look at Kim Harrison's book Black Magic Sanction.  As I break the book down, there will be spoilers so I'll give you spoiler alerts.  I'm going to try to figure out how to make another page so that you can ignore those pages as you wish.  Right now - as I understand it, books are made up of "scenes" not chapters.  And every "scene"  must have a purpose.  So as I'm reading I'm trying to figure out why each scene belongs.  In the last chapter I read, I just don't understand why it was there but maybe that will reveal itself later.  But more on that maybe tomorrow....



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