Sunday, January 27, 2013

Turning Angel by Greg Iles

Today I read Turning Angel by Greg Iles.

Turning Angel is the second book in the Penn Cage series.  It is set in Natchez, Mississippi.

The first book, The Quiet Game, was a delightful read so I was looking forward to the next book in the series.

Also, my work in progress Bon Secour is set in South Alabama.  I am a Southern boy and I imagine that all of my books will be set in the South.  I want to be an authentic Southern writer.  It is important for me to read contemporary Southern authors to absorb their style.

The story is a great read.  I enjoyed it thoroughly.  I'm looking forward to reading Devil's Punchbowl, the third book in the series.

The greatest praise for a book is, "I can't wait to read the sequel."

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Racketeer by John Grisham

Today I finished reading The Racketeer by John Grisham.

I really enjoy Grisham's novels.  They are delightful, easy reads.

I thought this one is one of his best recent novels.  The plotting was superb.  I didn't see the twists coming.  And that makes for a great read.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Telling Grammar by Kat Duncan

Today I read Telling Grammar by Kat Duncan.

After I finished writing my short story, They Went to Biloxi, I began to think about whether to engage the services of an editor to look over my story.  My daughter writes romance fiction and she has used Kat Duncan for editing.  She sings high praises for Kat's editing skills.

I searched the internet for Kat Duncan and found her website.  I noticed that she had written Telling Grammar and that it was available as a Kindle book.

I bought the book to read thinking it would be a good way to learn more about Ms. Duncan's writing skills.  I found them to be first rate.  I've been exposed to everything grammar-wise that she covers.  But, like some of my other life lessons this exposure didn't stick very well.  I'm guilty of many grammatical errors.

One of my problems is that I don't think it's that important for me to use a Past Present Participle properly.  I think it's more important to tell a good story.  I think if I do most readers will forgive me.  Mainly because they don't know the rules either.  But I have doubts.  So, I'm thinking about using an editor.

The book covers the rules of grammar from a storyteller's view which is unique.  It tells you when something is incorrect but acceptable in a novel.  I like that sort of not so up-tight thinking.

The magic in the book for me was when it began to cover what I'll describe as the ART of wording.

When I learned to fly, the rhapsodic, emotional feeling of soaring with the birds that many pilots rave on about totally escaped me.  To me, flying was a mechanical skill to be learned and practiced.  I never felt like a bird.  I never wanted to be a bird.

I've read a quotation by Truman Capote to the effect that he wrote for the pleasure of hearing the words as he wrote.  That emotional connection with words escapes me.

Kat Duncan's Telling Grammar has a wonderful section on sentence structure with tremendous practical examples of sentence wording to achieve emotional results.  For the first time, I think I'm beginning to understand why you might spend effort on perfectly saying something.  As opposed to simply letting it flow from your unconscious onto the paper.  For example, is it better to say "on saying something perfectly"?  :)

Powerful stuff to consider.

I recommend the book.  It's a great source for grammar rules, but it is much more.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Story by Robert McKee

Today I finished reading Story: Substance Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee.

I have seen advertisements for Robert McKee's seminars on screenwriting in several writing magazines.  The seminars are usually held in locations which would involve considerable expense in time and money to attend.

When I realized he had written Story, I purchased a copy and then looked at it sitting on my bookshelf for a year or so.  I started reading Story about six months ago.  I started, stopped and started again many times.  It's not that it's a hard book to read.  It is just so full of stuff I think I need to know.  It's deep.  At times, too deep for me.  I think it's the type of book that becomes a reference used many times.

I love being organized.  I'd rather organize what I'm going to do than to do it.  I've studied structure as taught by several authors.  I thought this was going to be a book about screenwriting structure.  And, while the subject is covered, that's not what the book is about.

Simply put, the book is about telling a story.  What works and why.  What doesn't work and why.  While his perspective is from the movies point of view, isn't this what all novelists, playwrights, and screenwriters want to do, to tell a good story.

p237 "To tell a story is to make a promise:  If you give me your concentration, I'll give you surprise followed by the pleasure of discovering life, its pains and joys, at levels and in directions you have never imagined."

Yeah, that's what I want to do.  I think this book has taught me many things that will help me accomplish this goal.

I rate this book as five stars.