Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Which books inspire you to write better?

I'm back!! Got sidetracked with freelance work, kids, fevers, sickness, writing the 1000th revision of my novel, and life in general... But part of that time was spent reading a young adult novel I had seen EVERYWHERE and finally picked up -- John Green's The Fault in Our Stars. Yes, I see now why it's, like, ranked #1 in the Kindle Store on Amazon. It's frickin amazing!! I'm not going to go into a huge amount of detail here about why I liked it -- unique and compelling characters, excellent and often hilarious dialogue, tight storyline, full of emotion....

My point is that while reading this novel, I started having all these insights about what my own (attempted) young adult novel was lacking. I found places that needed ... well, just MORE. I hadn't gone deep enough, I realized. I'd just touched the surface of conflicts. Reading John Green showed me what it means to peel back the layers of an idea, one at a time, and keep going and going until you reach the core. And then go further -- tell why that idea is important, relate it to the rest of your story. Later, refer back to that idea. It's called following a thread, I guess. But I'd never seen it done quite so well (at least, as far as I can remember) as in John Green's work. I hope the lesson sticks with me! Anyway, I bough the hardcopy of The Fault in Our Stars so I can re-read it when needed.

That's another thing -- very few books I've read I actually want to read again. Bridget Jones's Diary, yes. Rebecca, yes. Agatha Christie books, yes. But not much else. What books have inspired you to become a better writer? Which authors have taught you valuable writing lessons? And which books do you pick up again and again, learning something new each time you read them?