Monday, February 28, 2011

A different path

Three books by three different authors. All women’s fiction.


Ann Tatlock, Patti Lacy, and C.S. Lakin.

A new direction.

I chose these books as part of my revision plan. I hope to read them within the next two week period to boost my awareness of what makes a great book.

Yes, I’m going to study them for structure and plot and conflict and even how many times they use a familiar phrase. But mostly I hope I get sucked so deeply into them that I forget to analyze each page.

That’s my first desire.

My second desire is to apply what I learn to my own work.

I’m not talking voice here or copying any of their techniques. I’m only talking about finding that overall thing that makes a story one you can’t put down.

I hope each of these books will do that for me.

So this is only one of many steps I’m taking in this revision process. It might help—it might not. But it’s a shot.

What new direction have you taken recently?

54 comments:

Linda O'Connell said...

I am back on track and entering contests, which I seldom do. I read two or three books at one time unless I fond one I can't put down.

Jennifer Shirk said...

Good for you!! I'm ordering a few books myself to do just that. And I'm looking at an old manuscript and seeing if it can be saved.

Jessica R. Patch said...

Great ideas! I'm reading Stein on Writing by Sol Stein. I'm finding some very valuable information in it.

Nehha N Josshi said...

This happened to me when I was reading a book recently. I ended up just enjoying it.

Lin Floyd said...

got my 3rd rejection on my lds non fiction book, now I'm going to self publish and market myself..

Wendy Paine Miller said...

New direction...hmmm. Believe it or not I slowed down last month and I think it served me well. I began novel six and am madly in love with writing again.

A needed break I guess.
~ Wendy

Julie Gillies said...

I think it's a good strategy, Terri. Not that we copy one another, as you said, but I find that reading good books can only help make me a better writer. I always read with a highlighter in my hand, too, and mark the passages that jump out at me.

A new direction? I joined a women's book club. I'm not a huge fiction fan, but I wanted to be stretched and this group only reads novels. I did NOT like the first selection, but I am truly enjoying the second.

Hope your new job is going well, Terri. I pray God blesses you and grants you favor and grace. :-)

Lynn said...

Great idea! When I've done this in the past, I've used colour sticky tabs to mark the pages, each colour representing a different element. I just picked up this years Giller Prize winner, and will be studying her prose as I read.

Robin said...

My new direction is to slow down and savor what I read so transformation has a chance to take place. I have also been trying to decide a focused theme for writing on my blog, when I first began to write the focus was mainly on prayer, so...my new direction is to find a focused passion. Terri thanks for your inspiring words. May the God of hope fill you with ALL joy and peace as you continue to trust fully in him. rs

Joanne Sher said...

I find it SO difficult to read fiction as study. I just tend to get too caught up in the story to "learn." Praying it works for you. My new direction is collaboration - working on a project with a couple other Christian writers we're hoping to pitch to some interested publishers soon.

Heidi Willis said...

Part of my grad school work is reading books and writing about how an author used a certain aspect of craft in it. Having to write about what made a book work or not work has really impacted me.

I used to read and get lost in a good book. Having to stop and think about WHY it was good, and then to write it, has absolutely effected the way i write myself.

Like you said, it's not about imitating, it's about knowing how to make something work.

I'm still plugging away at revisions. :)

Kenda said...

Reading more, writing more, submitting more--not really new directions, but renewed dedication!

Sounds like you've got a great plan. Sometimes we just need a fresh approach to get the words flowing. Wishing you the best as you take this next step :-)

Tana Adams said...

I'm doing the same thing. I've hit the library pretty hard as of late and am exploring all of the new fiction I can. I want to get a feel for the bones of a story and what resonates with me as a reader.

Stacy Henrie said...

Sometimes the thing that helps me the most with my own writing or revising is just what you said - reading a really well crafted book, one I can just enjoy. Then I feel more energized to work on my own stuff.

Melissa Marsh said...

New direction - expanding my writing to include my love for history. On tap - three separate historical articles, plus a nonfiction book. I'm excited!

Loree Huebner said...

I recently took a different direction by dipping into the blogging pool. I also have been reading more fiction lately instead of history books. Everyone's style and voice is so different.

Keli Gwyn said...

Have fun reading those books, Terri. I love immersing myself in the stories of talented writers. I find my writing improves when I'm reading, which is why I have a book going all the time. As you said, I'm not out to emulate others, but reading well crafted stories helps me see what works and why. Plus, it's just plain fun. =)

Tamika: said...

Reading is in the air:) I bought two books this weekend that have grabbed even my dreams.

I am transformed by the melody of their words. Poignant writing and rich story premises.

Sassy Granny ... said...

I think that's the title of my LIFE: new directions. I've taken so many I can't imagine there being a chapter called "dull" :)

I'm all about gathering wisdom from whatever direction it's available. Good reading!

Kathleen

Jill Kemerer said...

Me too! I have two books by authors I've never read before, and I'm looking forward to reading them and studying. Like you, I hope I get sucked in and forget to analyze--I can analyze after the fact! Have fun!

Jolene Perry said...

When I'm working on something, I'll pull a bunch of books from that genre to look at. I don't want to be influenced, but I DO want to be influenced... make what you will of that :)

Jessica Nelson said...

I like to read outside my genre. I just read a historical thriller and it was really good. POV was all over the place but it worked. :-)

Sarah Forgrave said...

I've got one of Patti's books on my TBR pile and can't wait to start it.

I made a last-minute decision to enter the Genesis when I thought all along that I wouldn't. Figured it'd serve as a motivator to polish my story in the next few months. :)

Deborah said...

Hi Terri! I'd just be happy to get back on any writing path, but it seems that's not the direction my life is going these days. Family seems to take up all my time....and that's more than okay. Writing will wait.
I hope your reading gives you the insight you're looking for.

Julie Musil said...

I'll bet this helps. It's amazing what we can learn from great authors. And what a fun way to learn! Enjoy the books.

Sally said...

My new direction is videos. I've posted two, one on my blog one on my facebook. They are very rudimentary but fun to make.

Margo Berendsen said...

I learn so much by analyzing books. A really good book I'll just blaze through it, sticking bookmarks in pages where somethingg really jumped out at me. Then when I'm done (big sigh) I go back and re-read my marked pages and try to figure out what the author did.

Applying the principles to my own work - much harder!

Paul Greci said...

Terri, sounds like a great plan!
A new direction for me lately...hmmmm....I'll have to think about that. I'm hoping to start the 1st draft of a new WIP soon, maybe in a month. I'm hoping there'll be some new direction there.

Susan Panzica - EternityCafe said...

Terri,
I write nonfiction and was reading just that for the last 2 years. Just picked up a novel and am loving it. Need that creativity for good nonfiction too.

I also changed my schedule. Since I couldn't change my work schedule (Mon, Wed, Fri 8am - 9pm), I changed my writing schedule (which was really a non-writing schedule) to all day Tuesdays. I think the block of time will help, and I have to be organized to do all my other chores/errands/etc. on Thursdays and Saturdays. Takes more discipline for a tumbleweed like me, but it's a step in the right direction.

Thanks for always sharing so honestly. I appreciate it, even when I fail to comment ;)
Blessings to you.
Susan

Cheryl Klarich said...

I can't wait for your analysis! You must share!

Blessings on YOUR journey with your author companions!!!

Julie Jarnagin said...

Sounds like a great plan!

Nancy said...

Love that you're doing this. Have fun.

Linda Hoye said...

Since beginning to meet with two other women who are writing memoirs, I have changed direction on the structure of my book. Iron sharpens iron and I'm thankful for their feedback, but it's hard to admit that I am not as far along as I once thought I was. On the other hand, I believe the finished product will be immensely better in the long run.

Good luck with your new direction, Terri.

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

I love to read new books and pay attention to voice and what really grabs me. I perfectly understand what you mean.

And about changing directions, I was working on my WIP when I received the final proof of my new book. I had to shift into a different gear. But it's all good. We're so lucky to be writers!!!

WritingNut said...

Good luck! I need to do this myself... I'm currently weeding through my MS to pick out the major problems I KNOW are in there... then comes the hard part.. fixing all the stuff I need to find!

Rachna Chhabria said...

The last book I read, I got so engrossed I forgot about everything else. But, I am planning on reading two writing craft books.

Deb Shucka said...

This is a great idea. I'm currently reading a memoir that I bought at an author's fair from the author herself. She self-published, and did the book design herself. It appears that she did not seek outside help with the editing. All that to say she has an important story to tell that isn't reaching its audience because of clunky presentation and rambling writing. It's making me more willing to cut chunks out of my story as I'm revising right now - to remember the point is to tell a powerful story, not to wow my readers with my ability to write heavy thoughts.

Lynda R Young said...

I know it's a good book when I forget to anaylse ;)

Janna Qualman said...

Sounds like a great plan, Terri. I'm wishing you well with it!

A little more simply, I've changed up my workspace. Taking a long break from my desk and writing nook, and spreading out on the table. It's both working and isn't.

Lydia K said...

My new direction (not really new, but relatively new...oh whatever. It's newish) is super-detailed outlines. As in, 20-30 page outlines. So far it's helping my first draft not be so all over the place.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Terri -

I like your plan. I've been thinking along the same lines.

I'm reading Francine Rivers' book, "Redeeming Love." My mother and best friend read it. Both said, other than the Bible, it was the best book they'd ever read. I can see why.

What makes a story great? Perhaps I'll review this oldie, but goodie and explore that question.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I have embarked on my first MG novel journey. It seems like a HUGE feat for a PB and chapter book writer, but one foot in front of the other . . . :-)

Warren Baldwin said...

Very good idea, Terri. Get different perspectives, approaches, ideas. I'm reading a historical biography right now of one of Stalin's key men. Mmm, that is a little out of my genre! But, sure does shake up your thinking, which is good.

Amy DeTrempe said...

I always get sucked into a book when I started reading it to study. Oh well. My latest endeavor is learning as much as I can about promoting a book.

Heather Sunseri said...

I'm writing something very different right now. Same genre, but very different from the last book I wrote. I have Patti Lacy's book on my bedside table right now. Can't wait to read it.

Stephanie Faris said...

Great idea! I actually read every morning but I'm not sure I study them for those things. I need to start taking note of that.

Rosslyn Elliott said...

I think I need a new approach. I'm feeling tired. I want to keep the joy in the process!

Patti said...

I rewrote my first chapter in first person and really liked it, but not sure if I'll switch the whole book.

Angela Ackerman said...

The more I learn, the more I see there is still so much more to learn!

Reading good books is always a good step. I'm a fan of the books on technique too. My crit partner and I will both read them at the same time, then discuss them. It really helps to make sure what we got from the book is cemented in our minds.

Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

Patti Lacy said...

Oh, my. I came by on this stormy Friday night to check on my Terri and see my name.

Yikes. I sure hope you are drawn into my story.

Praying that God will speak to you through Sheila!!!

Nervous in Normal:)
Patti

colbymarshall said...

New direction: trying to stop forcing words out and instead, working on something else in the meantime to try to let them flow naturally. We'll see how it goes!

Kathryn Magendie said...

I have had to stop thinking about what I THINK readers will want from the last book in the Graces trilogy, and instead write as if it is the FIRST book I've written. This has helped me to break through a wall that was rising up, keeping me from writing my words!

Jennie Allen said...

That sounds good. I always have a hard time reading while writing- I think honestly it makes me schitzo and insecure. But I love how you are approaching it!

Gina Conroy said...

I need to get back into reading craft books. I have so many great ones on my shelf. Thanks for this challenge!