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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Monday, March 17, 2014

Long Books: Are They Easier to Write than to Read?

Oh, yes, I can read long books, fantasy or otherwise. Case in point, Spirit Walk by Richie Tankersley Cusick. Okay, if you want to nit pick, it's two books in one volume, but I started reading it as I got bored with Great North Road. And--I don't think I finished it because it was 200 pages shorter, either.

Spirit Walk is solid Young Adult fantasy where the protagonist moves to a new town just as she's developing the talent to see and hear ghosts. 

Miranda Barnes gets relocated when a hurricane destroys her old life, and when she's moved to her mother's home town, she learns that her grandfather is the town's lunatic eccentric. Turns out his "strange spells" come when he contacts the spirit world, but he dies before he can teach and guide Miranda to control her developing abilities. Fortunately, she finds a group of friends who are more than willing to help her cope, including the local "bad boy" who provides the love interest.

Sounds like a cliche, but it's a cliche like romance books are a cliche. It's all in the writer's imagination and ability to develop a plot line. In this case, Cusick demonstrates good craft skills plus plausible depictions and explanations for the phenomena she works with. Miranda is a good kid trying to find her feet in a new world and, thanks to Cusick, does it in a logical way with only a few normal freakouts. Her sidekicks are all well differentiated and, while they are familiar types including a southern belle, have kinks that move them away from the norm. 

The ghosts? They're the best of all. They come across as characters with real problems rather than flitting balls of light.

As for being long, there are two major things that can go wrong with a story line. One you go into so much detail that you lose your reader's interest. [Like the Great North Road did for me. Though George R. R. Martin does it for me too.]

Another reason is all the writers, who are still learning their craft as their storyline meanders in and out of plot twists and extraneous scenes, who give up. If the beginning writer's lucky, they keep writing until they learn how to construct a novel. If they are luckier, they'll go back and discover a mouldering draft containing inspiration for a number of different novels.

One example of this is a recent blog by Margo Berendson about a unicorn novel she wrote when she first started writing. ... I was an early critiquer of the unfinished novel, way back, but the plot line always has stuck in the back of my mind. I'm glad she's recycling the material now that she's gained a better mastery of her skills. Check out her experience on rekindling her writing dream.

I'm doing much the same thing with some short stories I wrote way back when. Discovered that some of them could be rewritten to fit into my Andor world [There Be Demons and Noticing Jamilla]. I'm now in the process, while I wait for The Grumpy Dragon to do its thing, of converting the short stories into planks in my platform.

Have you made any other use of your trunk novels, besides making a home for dust bunnies?

Oh, Spirit Walk. I give it a five star rating because it kept me reading past my bedtime.



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