Book Clubs and Plot Ponderings
Earlier this month I participated in my first book club where The Sense of Death was the topic and had so much fun! It was not only an excuse to drink wine (Ann Kinnear would like that part) but also gave me helpful insights as I work on The Sense of Reckoning--thank you, Real Book Club! If you live in Chester County, Pennsylvania or an adjoining county and would like to have an author-attended book club to discuss The Sense of Death, please let me know!
In writing news, I'm readying a draft of Reckoning to send to my editor in March. As part of that, I'm incorporating some input I received from my Mystery Writers of America mentor, Peter James Quirk. One of Mr. Quirk's suggestions was to liven up the first few paragraphs--I thought it was already pretty lively, considering that it involves a young man driving toward a massive forest fire to save "The Lady," but I do see that there are opportunities to heighten the drama.
Coincidentally, at the same time I was working on that, I was reading Some Luck by one of my favorite authors, Jane Smiley. Check out my review on Goodreads--the upshot is that although I couldn't put the book down, very little happens plot-wise. In the first half of the book, the most exciting event is that a farmer almost falls into a well. How does Ms. Smiley manage to hold a reader's (at least this reader's) attention with so little drama? (I'm now starting on her book 13 Way of Looking at the Novel to learn her secret--and to see if any of her methods can be applied to a suspense novel.)
What's a book that contained little drama but still held your interest, and how do you think it did that? Please post your thoughts here or on my author Facebook page!
2/15/2015 08:41:52 am
Matty, I think Kent Haruf is an author who doesn't create a whole lot a drama, but whose books are so beautifully written you can't put them down. Plainsong, Eventide, and Benediction are his trilogy about the citizens of fictional Holt, Colorado.
2/16/2015 10:04:20 pm
Matty, I don't spend any time thinking about whether there's not enough drama, too much drama, etc. If the writing is good, it keeps my attention. I look for good story lines without a lot of ancillary fluff, and interesting characters. I've noticed that once a writer gets on the "crank 'em out treadmill" (e.g., David Baldacci), their work seems less "crisp" than in earlier times. If a book holds my interest, I read it. If it doesn't, I put it down, and move on to the next one. I never slog through books any more just for the sake of saying I read one through and through. Life is too short to spend it reading "meh" books.
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