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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Monday, June 23, 2014

Do Your Stories Still Need Action Even If You Don't Write Paranormal Thrillers?

To me, nothing is more boring than a book that plods along with extraneous information about characters, setting, and anything else. Lack of action's sure not one of Jim Butcher's faults, and his book, Skin Game,A Novel of the Dresden Files, he lives up to his reputation. What else can be expected from a first sentence that says Dresden has a "ticking time bomb" in his head?

Before you run away -- because you don't want to read another 5***** review -- have you ever considered why Butcher enjoys such a tremendous success? Let me count a few ways why.

His Chapters? First, they're always short and to the point. More important, something always happens in Butcher's chapters ... and he's not afraid to break up his chapters in the middle of the action scene, like when one enemy goes down. Success! Then, either the enemy comes up with a sneaky trick to clobber Dresden again ... or something new comes out of the woodwork to attack or complicate things.

His Characters? After 16 books, Butcher has a thick Rolodex of things paranormal he hasn't yet killed off in Dresden's world. In all the action in this book, it's surprising how few named characters Butcher kills, even if redemption is a sub-plot in the story. Yeah, it's no secret Harry's fighting for his soul now that he's The Winter Knight, trying to physically survive among the Fae. To me that makes his character more than a standard-bearer for the plot. Harry's still growing as a person. [I say this without even mentioning how Dresden got pregnant. Such inventiveness is what makes Butcher so great.]

Oh, got sidetracked. I was going to make a point about the Rolodex of characters--the primary people through to the walk-ons. Look at his descriptive tags and how Butcher handles back story when he introduces a new preternatural. That's a master at work.

His Settings. All well-described? Check? But my, the variety. Skin Game starts on Dresden's Demon Island and leaps feet first into his old stomping grounds, Chicago, which is changing without his shepherding. The the adventure part in this book has a mis-matched crew trying to break into the vault of Hades to steal a religious object and untold wealth ... with the potential of a big double-double-cross.

The structuring of the double-crosses and how Dresden wins is worth the price of the book -- in hard back. No I don't think it's a spoiler to say Harry Dresden wins on several fronts ... with plenty of potential danger lurking in his future.

Oh, did I mention Parkour? ... Read the book and find out for yourself. This review is long enough, already.

After all this adulation, you might be happy to know that Skin Game isn't in the top 100 Kindle books; it's 104 as I write. Butcher still gets 5***** for Skin Game


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PS On Amazon Rankings.

I'm always amazed by how few sales it takes to jump in the ratings --
down at the bottom, that is.Frankly, I'd be happy to sell a 100 epubs in a month. I give away more than that,but sales are slow in coming .... and reviews even slower.
Grumble. Grumble.

My Writing?

Do you really want to hear me whine? I've doubled up on projects .. or at least, I'm trying to work on two projects at once while still doing the social marketing.

First, I've decided to grit my teeth and query a publisher for Dark Solstice Turning Point. Now, I'm reading through the rest of the chapters in addition to the first three I reworked. One surprise. I'm deleted very little ... though I have been editing passive sentences.

Crossings? Continues to progress. I'm doing paper edits. My critique group hasn't seen the ending yet. It got cancelled due to unexpected circumstances, Maybe next time, or I'll just send it off to my beta-readers.


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