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.


Monday, March 29, 2010

Pacing and Conflict and Reasons

The Read:  Okay.  I think everyone can learn writing tips from Lee Child's newest novel:  Gone Tomorrow.  I mentioned I started to squirm at his NYC subway doors opening and closing as he traveled uptown, then realized how Child was wrapping the tension tight as Reacher kept comparing the Israeli suicide bomber profile with one on the passengers, an older woman.

Well, by about a third of the way into the book, the cliche has been turned on its head.  The woman worked for the pentagon and committed suicide with a gun within reach of Reacher.  After the NYC police investigate, Reacher had made contact with the the suicide's brother, a New Jersey cop, and learned her son was missing and may or may not be in danger.  Reacher is contacted by some goons who are working for a "principle" who wants to know if the suicide gave Reacher anything and dropped two names.  Some federal investigative goons, warned Reacher to forget what he saw.  He learns the suicide was delayed on the Interstate traveling from DC to NYC.  Reacher decides to investigate the names to discover one of them (a retired officer running for Congress) has some secret tucked into his military past.  So, Reacher goes to DC where the same federal goons tell him he's too old to mess with them and to go away.  --  I've enjoyed books that have less action in 300 pages than the 150 I just mention.  Best, Child is just starting to roll.

Then, there's the pacing.  I was just getting to noticing Child was using enormous amounts of dialogue with very little setting [which I assumed I was filling in by my own NYC experiences].  This at about 11 PM.  When I next looked at the clock, it was midnight.  Whatever, magic Child was weaving sucked me down the dark hole into his world.

Progress:   On my own stuff, none.  Hopefully, I learned something at the Northern Colorado's Writer's conference that will perculate through my fingers.

Trivia:  Don't ask my why, but the old man and I were discussing Madame Bovary.  I hated the book when I read it in high school.  I had figured out the many (most ?) adults were stupid long ago, but Madame Bovary was the most inane and stupid someone I ever wasted time on.  To read and to write.  By that time, I was a "published" author and had two "novels" under my belt [unpublished].  I knew how long it took to write a book ... by hand and by the typewriter I had somehow managed to pick up.

What no one told me at the time -- the problems caused by frivolous goals where the whole point of the book.  Maybe I can still dislike the book because it takes so long for her world to blow up in her face?


Kirsten Lesko said...

Don't you just love it when books suck you in like that? I've always preferred books with sparse setting details for that reason.

Unknown said...

I think that's why I read.