Friday, March 28, 2008

Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseinin

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini , New York Times Bestseller and Major Motion Picture, which is not a book about the Christian faith, is a great study for Point of View (POV).

The book is about a young boy who has an idyllic childhood in Afghanistan. Things change as he matures through government turmoil until he and his father are forced to flee to America. He finishes school, marries, and is awaiting the birth of his first child, when an old family friend contacts him and begs him to come to Pakistan for an important farewell.

The book is interesting on several levels. First, it shares the culture of another country I knew nothing about. Second, it shows how political unrest can steal all the good things in life that we all take for granted. Third, it shows how a strong character can change and survive.

I was looking over my notes about POV that I wrote at different workshops. Two ideas stuck out as I read. Mary DeMuth told us at last year's ACFW Conference, we should pretend we were looking through a pirate's spy glass to understand the concept we could only write what the character could see through the spy glass. Karen Kelley stated she becomes the character as she writes the book.
I became Amir as I read the book. I saw the changes in Afghanistan through his eyes in a deep and personal way the nightly news can never capture.
An expected delight in the book was the author's use of parallelism. Seemingly, unimportant information at the beginning of the story ended the book with great importance with A-Ha moments.

I appreciated how the story challenged my reasoning and opened my emotions. The narrative is so closely limited to the character, reading it you would assume it was an autobiography.

I have two recommendations. Read The Kite Runner, which will lead you to reading A Thousand Splendid Suns, and putting your name on the reserve list for the movie, The Kite Runner. Secondly, as you read books, notice what the author does to make it work for you. As many have said, "If you want to be a writer, you must first be a reader."

Moonine Sue Watson

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Don't Murder Your Mystery by Chris Roerden

I recommend this book of 24 fiction-writing problems that makes your work "dead on arrival" to the publisher or agent. Whether you write mysteries or romance, the principles are the same. Roerden's ideas open your eyes to spots needing correcting, and does it in a humorous, straight-to-the-point way.
The one I'd like to address on this blog is the "Clue #14 - Slow Death". As a new writer I many times fall in love with my own words. That, according to Chris Roerden, is the slow death of your manuscript. Research demands a large role in contemporary fiction and a hefty one in historicals. The fact that we have pages of notes on our subjects tempts us to dump it all in three pages. Not good. We might write only a sentence of it in the whole manuscript. When you read over your words, if there is a word, sentence, paragraph or entire scene you can't cut, it's the one your might have to cut.
Another helpful idea came from Clue #12 Unsettling Settings. Pacing your setting to match your tension or conflict strengthens your writing. To begin, the setting could take up a paragraph, but three pages later could include only a phrase. Always connect the action (tension, conflict) to your setting. If it doesn't have relevance later, leave it out.
I'd suggest buying this book. I discovered help in all 24 clues. I recommend it with relish.
Happy writing,
Janet K. Brown

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