As I've been healing up from two surgeries, I've started to study the craft of writing more intentionally,
Chapter after Chapter by Heather Sellers is being discussed at Goodreads (since last week) with the IWSG Goodreads group and I found it to be a great read. I didn't agree with Sellers on all points, but I found that when I disagreed and took notes, I honed my own thoughts on writing to a fine edge. I do love most of the book and agreed with many of her thoughts and tips. I marked with pen and pencil, dog-eared for special places (nearly every page in certain chapters), and I did 70% of the exercises, which is pretty good for me with a writing craft book. I can see applying different exercises at different times in my writing life. While I read this book, I laughed, I thought, I snorted, I shook my head, I almost wept over one part, and I wrote. In short, it was wonderful.
I don't know what the next IWSG Goodreads book will be, but since I already have a copy of Writer to Writer: From Think to Ink by Gail Carson Levine, I'm working on that one. I actually started it midway through Chapter after Chapter because I needed a different approach for some of my current WIP. Think to Ink has some fantasy-friendly writing exercises that fit with The Greenling Chronicles (book 1 of a series). Levine's book also has good general writing advice and exercises found in her sections. I'm currently in her section on Character Building (chapters 4-9).
The one part that I keep coming back to from Chapter after Chapter is Chapter 21: Braids. I loved so much of the entire book, but this chapter hit me right in the gut of my current WIP. I needed this chapter and I keep referring back to it as I'm writing. I would love to share the whole chapter, but I know that is wrong, so I'll just give you a few bits here:
"Braided books (or articles or stories) are made up of three or four strands of storyline .... You tell three stories, bit by bit. The juxtapositions lend life and suprise, tension and drama. ... Things stay fresh and lively and manageable."
Oddly, I think I knew this by instinct (from reading) when I wrote Champion in the Darkness, but somehow I forgot it by the time I started writing the last few novels I've attempted. Last year's novel disaster still smarts. I never shared much of it because getting that far in a project and then dumping it is just painful - like an early romance just gone wrong. I think that my best parts of my Captain Wrath WIP include braids, but then somewhere in there, I lost the sense of them and end up with a snarl (fitting for the Captain, but not good for the novel). Although I do want to go back and unsnarl, or at least re-braid Captain, I'm determined to finish The Greenling Chronicles book 1 with a decent braided outline for the rest of the series before I return to the Captain's side.
With Greenling, I have Dunnie, the villain, and the writings of his family and friends. Ray's comics are an important piece but I can't draw so I'm hoping I can find a publisher that will be excited about combining text with comic book pages - at least in a one comic book page every chapter kind of way. I've also been tossing around the idea of including a "science and quest journal" from Dunnie's mom in this first book - she leaves him with his Gran so she can go on a bit of a quest and then she goes missing and leaves her journal behind.
I really want to include different types of imagery and text for this novel. That's one of my big ideas behind it - not a theme, as much as a hope to draw in more visual, artistic readers. I've met a handful of young readers this last year who prefer graphic novels to text novels and I would love to tackle a crossover graphic and textual novel style book for a MG to early YA age group.
Have you ever read a book that contained comic book or graphic novel elements? Am I biting off more than I can chew with my wild crossover idea?
Have you read Chapter after Chapter or another writing craft book lately?
Go Here for the IWSG Goodreads discussion.
Hero Lost - the Blog Tour is happening at these sites this week!
May 22 - Christine Rains - Review
May 22 - Nick Wilford - Guest Post
May 24 - Toi Thomas - Interview