I’m currently listening to Loretta Chase’s Lord of Scoundrels. I listen to most of my books these days. I can’t write in the car, so it’s a great way to catch up on my reading.
This book was released a second time, and I’m not surprised. I’ve been grabbed by the characters depth and the complexity of their problems. Plus, the author’s brilliant use of appropriate language, subtle settings that give you a feel for the era, and essential secondary characters.
So here’s the thing. I’m never going to write like Loretta, (sigh) but I can look at the construction of the story and discover how she handles certain elements. What does she do with misunderstandings? How does she work in characters’ “abilities” before they’re needed? Why would she choose to be in the manservant’s point of view at the start of the first chapter and, Devil take it, why would she start the book with a prologue? Many of these items we are told to avoid when crafting our stories, but what we really need to be asking ourselves is: Why do they work?
The funny thing is, I’m listening to the story with both sides of my brain. One part is caught up in a tale that makes me think about the characters, even when I’m not in the car. The other part is fascinated by how she’s constructed the story to grab my attention, giving me only enough information to move the action forward without overwhelming me with detail.
Some of my best “ah-ha” moments have come from reading books by talented authors. The key is to pay attention. I doubt any of their stories just happened to come out the way they were published. Those authors sat down and made some conscious choices.
I have no idea what’s coming next for Jess and Dain, but I’m looking forward to the journey, and like all the best stories, I don’t really want it to end. Do you have any well-thumbed books that have inspired you and guided you along the writing path? I’d love to hear what they are!