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, September 1, 2014

Do Your Characters Advance Your Plot? One Excellent Example.

Don't know which pulls me into a story more. Different, Interesting characters or a fast-paced plot with loads of suspense. Then, there are the books that give you both. White Fire, featuring their FBI Special Agent Pendergast, by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child does just that.

Pendergast has landed in my to-read pile several times. Have always enjoyed the fast moving plots. But this time around, I noticed something different: how Preston and Child used their characters to squeeze the most out of their plot.

The book proceeds in a linear fashion, using very short chapters to feature each bit of action. More important, the chapters are told from different viewpoints. Not only do the chapters present important information within the action sequences, but they also flesh out both main and secondary characters. The reader not only gets to know who they are but sympathize for their problems too.

My favorite example in this book was Pendergast's encounter with a survivalist who has his whole community scared of him. Pendergast goes to his cabin deep into the high mountains of Colorado in spite of all the advice to the contrary, and then, squeezes the information out of the gun nut in a tense show down. The readers already know Pendergast has nerves of titanium but must wonder if a stronger metaphor is needed.

Another 5***** rating, for general, edge-of-the-chair excellence. Oh, the growth of Pendergast's somewhat clueless protege also deserves kudos.
 
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Absolute Write Water Cooler has been one of my favorite go-to places for information about the publishing world. Next on my list is Writer Beware, now written by Victoria Strauss and connected with the SFWA for years. The Writer Beware blog recently discussed a troll campaign against the Cooler -- mostly because commentators tend to be a little rough when they think someone isn't being quite honest or isn't a good bet to effectively deliver on the services the offer.Take a look at Strauss' blog: Haters Gonna Hate.

I've read the forums for years, mostly as a lurker because I don't think I have much expertise to offer. In my readings, I've thought the most of the comments are right on. If a discussion starts chasing its tails over the same ground, the moderator has usually stepped in to calm things down.

My biggest piece of wisdom from the forums: Give a new publisher a couple years to prove they know what they're doing before you trust your manuscript to them. They tend to go belly-up for many reasons -- even though their prinicpals have the noblest of intentions when they start their publishing enterprise. It's not just publishing. All start-ups fail at astonishing rates.


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Crossings: A Tale of Andor
is now #free
[at least until 15 Sep 2014]

You can download the enovella at Amazon, Nook, KOBO, and Smashwords.
It's also up on the iBookstore, but I couldn't find where they hid the price.

Special review exchange offer: 
If you download and review #Crossings, let me know. [You can contact me at mkkaytheod-at-yahoo-dot-com.] I'll return the favor if you send me a PDF or code for a free copy. Just be warned, I'll give three star ratings if your formatting, grammar, and spelling are off. I'll also say if you don't hold my interest. Whatever, I'll share my comments before I post them if the rating is less than four-star, and you can decide whether they go public or not. Think of this as being a one-time critique partner.

Guess you could also comment here if your book/story is a free download. It might give you a little publicity.



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