Sunday, April 17, 2011

Reasons to Read The Little Friend

I don't know about you, but nothing inspires me to write more than reading a wonderful novel or story. And after reading Donna Tartt's book, I couldn't stop thinking about craft.

A good friend, who recommended the book to me, did me the favor of telling me the ending before I ever picked up the book. Her intent wasn't to "spoil" the book for me, but a warning not to read it like a mystery novel. All of the criticism of the book I've read comes from readers who didn't enter the book with this mindset, so I'll pass this information on to you: in the end, you won't know who the murderer was. Yes, the little girl sets out to solve the murder, but what she learns is so much more interesting.

Here would be my top three reasons for reading this book:

1. The language is both precise and gorgeous. The author's use of modifiers is so perfect, you'll want to go try on some adverbs when you're finished, all those writing manuals be damned.

2. If you've ever struggled to understand Dramatica concepts, especially the main character's unique ability, you'll see a perfect example here. (I don't know if this was intentional in the author's part, but when I read it, it was an "ah-ha" moment for me.)

3. She makes the "villain" (one of them, anyway) so human and vulnerable, that the reader wants him to make good choices, understands when he doesn't, and hopes his punishment isn't too harsh.
I'm sure you can think of more reasons to read this book. You are welcome to post them!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Ice Broken?

Have you ever put off telling someone something ("I'm sorry" or "I hope your major surgery went swell") that soon the idea of saying anything to them felt insurmountable? You start to imagine a barrage of accusations. Why didn't you say something sooner?! I was counting on you! You're no friend at all! Well, it feels a little bit like that with this blog (even though I have no idea when you'll see this, and I'm sure you're not counting on me... and I hope you didn't have major surgery, or if you did, that it went okay). It seems at this point, that what needs to be done is to break the ice.

Ice broken?

Ice broken!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

HTML Giant

There's a discussion of Kellie Wells' story, "Gaythal Dethloff, Mother of Murder" on HTML Giant, curtousy of LMC (Literary Magazine Club). Here's a link:

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Flash Celebration on Flash Factory

For the two hundredth week of Flash Factory contests, Richard Osgood has put out the word to all Factory members far and wide: we are aiming for two hundred stories this week. There are three prompts--a picture prompt, a five-word prompt, and an open prompt (which isn't really a prompt at all). My goal is to submit three flashes this week. So let's get to writing!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Word Collecting

My inbox overflows with words. Every day, when the various words-of-the-day are delivered: Worthless Word for the Day (WWFTD),, Here are a couple of jewels recently delivered (warning: the definitions are my own summaries and understanding):

Idioglossia: a private language. For example, a language children might make up to communicate among themselves.

Cringeworthy: (this one is self-evident, isn't it?)

If you know of other word-of-the-day subscriptions, please feel free to share.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

That Certain Tilt

I've had the opportunity to work with Kellie Wells for my final MFA semester. She's a pretty amazing writer, and brilliant. Earlier in the semester, she used an expression that made a big impact on me: she was speaking of stories that had a magical "tilt." It dawned on me that this "tilt" summarizes the writing I'm drawn to--and the works I hope to produce. The sorts of works that give the reader a surprising glimpse of the world at a different angle. This might happen through the employment of magic, the fantastic, humor, surprising juxtaposition or word choices., to name a few of the possibilities.

I was thinking about that while reading Kellie's story, "Gathal Dethloff, Mother of Murder," in this month's issue of The Collagist. To me, her choice of words delivers sly little suprises. For example, at one point, when meeting an woman who is described to be as large as a grand piano, the narrator says, “'Hello?' I said to Gaythal Dethloff, insufficiently." That surprising adverb delivers.

I suggest you read it for yourself!