Monday, July 15, 2013

What I Learned From My Summer Reading

When I’m working on a project, the books that I happen to read for entertainment start to do a funny thing.  They teach me and remind me about important things that I must do (or not do) in my own work. 

Lately I’ve read (and re-read) novels by the wonderful Linda Urban.  Specifically, A CROOKED KIND OF PERFECT and her latest, THE CENTER OF EVERYTHING.  I’m particularly fond of THE CENTER OF EVERYTHING because of how Linda Urban crafted the character of Ruby Pepperdine, a twelve year old who recently lost her Gigi and is hanging her hopes on one wish and an essay about her town’s founder and inventor of the donut.  One thing that really impressed me about this book is that it’s told from close third-person and weaves between past and present tense. It took me a while to read THE CENTER OF EVERYTHING because I found myself engaged in “How did she do that?” with every chapter. 

And in a story filled with great lines, there was one that jumped out at me because of its meaning to the story and the meaning for novel craft.  You can find it on page 137 in the chapter entitled “The Hole that Turns Things Inside Out.”  Ruby and her friend Nero are at the library researching a torus and how it changes.  During this scene, Nero tells Ruby, “The hole is what lets it change.”

And I thought….BAM.  There you go, Linda Urban.  Teaching me something important about my own story.  I have a character who is missing something very important in her life and without that hole, there would be no way for her to change.  And, as we all know, transformation of our characters is key to a strong story.

What have you read lately that entertained you as well as taught you something new about your craft? And are there any lines from a novel that stay with you because they remind you something important about your approach to writing?

1 comment:

Jen Malone said...

Great line and great post! The line that has stuck with me for months is from THE FAULT IN OUR STARS. I'm paraphrasing (I'm sure John Green did this more justice) but it went something like "I fell in love like I fall asleep, slowly at first, then all at once." I thought it was such a beautiful, spot on description!!