Lessons from My Reading

M. K. Theodoratus, Fantasy Writer, blogs about the books she reads--mostly fantasy and mystery authors whose books catch her eye and keep her interest. Nothing so formal as a book review, just chats about what she liked. Theodoratus also mutters about her own writing progress or ... lack of it.

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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Age Appropriate or Unskillful Use of Language?

The Read:  When the family book trading box arrived, I was pleased to see a book by Diana Wynne Jones -- Witch's Business.  Her Chrestomanci series, Dalemark Quartet, and Howel's Moving Castle sit solidly on my top reads list.  [ I don't really call them favorites because the list is so long. ]  So, I looked forward to the book even though it was obviously a middle grade.

The fantasy is firmly grounded in reality.  In this case, what happens when you try to replace your allowance when it's impounded because you broke a chair.  The brother and sister set up a business but run afoul of the local witch who is in the same business.  The more the kids try to solve their problems, without alerting the adults, the deeper their problem grows.

Witch's Business had charm, humor, and a nice puss-and-boots twist, but I had problems with the simplicity of the plot.  Perhaps this is because it's aimed at 8-10 year olds, depending on their reading level.  The book was written in a simpler time (1973) and, maybe, for Wynne Jones' British audience, granted ... but for me, it just didn't ring true.  I can remember myself and my friends vividly in the 4th and 5th grades.  None of us were so naive as the "good guys".  Not even the densest of us.  ( I don't want to call him stupid, because he wasn't really.  Just dense.)

The "cussing" on the part of the bully bothered me the most.  While he used interesting non-cuss words which created vivid disgusting images like rat slime, slimy puke, and degutted brains-in-gravy, his swearing lacked rhythm.  There's an art to swearing that my friends had mastered even at that young age. 

Is it a good thing I write for young adults -- though I understand you have to be careful of your cussing for them too?

Web NotesTrue or false?  Are some writing truisms myths?  Kevin Hearne wrote a blog exploding three truisms common in publishing circles, especially among writers.  Hearne did a survey of  246 published SF and Fantasy writers and wrote about the results.  --  In his Writer's Grove blog --  http://kevinhearne.blogspot.com/2010/03/three-writing-myths-busted.html 
I took comfort from this result:
116 out of the 246 hadn't sold anything before they sold their first book to major publishers.

Progress:  None, in the usual sense that I wrote something.  I've spent the last two day exhausting my brain at the Northern Colorado Writers conference.  Learned lots of good stuff.  I'll try to post a sample of them tomorrow.

(I'm way behind on my time log for Maren, Lost and Found.  Did get a title to pop out of my brain.)

Trivia:  Had lots of fun at the conference even if my pitch sank. 

PS:  I'm sorry I can't get links to work on this thing, software, whatever. 
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