Thursday, January 18, 2007

Learning from Mark Terry's Dirty Deeds

As most of you know, my reviews aren't reviews, per se. They're more a review of what I learned from the book, not a summary of the book and my impressions. After all, I'm an author trying to learn and improve her craft. :-) Click the book to go to amazon.com for a description of the plot!

I'd hate for anyone to miss out on the VERY SEXY Jack Baer or not fall in love with the coolest kick-ass chick ever, Meg Malloy. A series is made from great characters that you can't get enough of, and although it has a rocky first three chapters, this novel smoothed out into something that I just fell in love with.

Thirteen things I learned from Mark Terry's Dirty Deeds
  • 1. A new Ranger is in town! I now have a crush on TWO fictional characters: Ranger (be still my heart) and Jack Bear (Oh. My. God.). He's strong, sexy, and mysterious: Jack Bear's got it all. He's an alpha hero, alright, yet he has a curiously non-alpha attitude towards Meg that's absolutely refreshing.
  • 2. The female-in-jeopardy plot can be done without making the woman an annoying weakling. True, Meg Malloy is in over her head, BUT calling Jack Bear makes things worse for her. Jack, while oozing alpha sexiness, tends to let her call the shots. This dichotomy is what gives this book its original spark. I haven't seen a character quite like this Jack. And yes, I'm totally crushin' on him, I know!
  • 3. Description must illuminate plot or character.
  • 4. How to Do Description: "She was glaring at me, sullen, but most fish look that way when their lower lip's caught on a hook." (41) This description especially works because Meg's just coerced this waitress into talking when she'd rather not--but she wants the worm (the money).
  • 5. Each character needs a distinctive name, distinctive look, AND distinctive manner of speech. Mark Terry is awesome at this! Lisa, who either skips the subject or starts with 'and' or 'but': "Comes and goes, doesn't tell me what she's doing. I know she skipped class this morning, 'cause we have the same class together ... we're both going to be Interior Designers, you know?--and she wasn't there. And her car's not in the parking lot."

    Reverend Walker, who sounds JUST like a televangelist: "Forgive yourself? In this modern new age, that seems entirely too easy. First we have to forgive ourselves, we say, and everything else will come. But I say NO!"
  • 6. A great nickname goes a long way: Meg Malloy aka M&M. Cute, huh?
  • 7. My favorite bit of writing:
    "I sat there head on my hands, hands on my knees, adrift. I wasn't thinking analytically. I wasn't thinking about how I had assaulted an FBI agent. I wasn't thinking about how someone may have tried to kill me this morning by blowing up my Hummer to scrap. I wasn't even trying to figure out a way to extract myself from this mess.

    I just let emotions wash over me like waves, pretending to be a piece of driftwood, inert and oblivious." (120)
  • 8. A man can write a female character, first person POV, and pull it off. Really pull it off.
  • 9. In fact, Mark Terry sensitively portrays his characters, with respect towards their emotions.
  • 10. Setting can be portrayed with emotional description, even casually: "Jack dropped into the armchair where my mother sometimes curled up and read while Dad did his work ..." The description of the setting illuminated offscreen characters; love it!
  • 11. Alpha characters can behave with beta sensitivity. I think I already mentioned this above, but I'm endlessly fascinated with this Jack Bear character!
  • 12. Not every great series gets published. I hear there's no contract for the next book, which is already written! *whimper* (Does he take bribes?) So go buy the first one, so a publisher will buy his second one! (This book gets great in Chapter Four. Before then, just remember that the girl is over 18 and it's consensual.)
  • 13. I didn't know whodunnit! The more I write, the more I recognize whodunnit as soon as s/he appears onscreen. The plot is well done!
Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


16 bonus scribbles:

Bernita 1/19/2007 08:59:00 AM  

" a review of what I learned from the book"
I, for one, appreciate your approach, very much.
If I want a simple review I'll go to Amazon.
It's valuable to read a writer's analysis of techn iques and cool things.Clue sticks.
And Terry does a number of things WELL.
Thank you.

StarvingWriteNow 1/19/2007 10:46:00 AM  

I don't really get the Thursday 13 idea. Are you supposed to blog a 13 list every Thursday? Only once? The site was kind of confusing; I felt like I was missing something important that everyone else already knew. Where was the dummies page??

Have a great weekend!

Bubba 1/19/2007 01:03:00 PM  

I loved your idea for TT. What a great review...makes me want to read the book!

Starving: yes, the Thursday Thirteen is something that can be done every week. The concept is that you would pick your own theme, and then write it. By reading different TTs over time, we get to know each other better. If you want to see some examples, go to my blog and click on the Thursday Thirteen label to get some ideas.

Happy TT!

Christine 1/19/2007 01:08:00 PM  

This is an excellent idea for a TT! I may have to borrow it some week. And I hadn't heard of this book, but I think I'm going to add it to my TBR pile. :)

Thanks for the great list and for stopping by my site!

Mark 1/19/2007 02:19:00 PM  

Thanks for the kind words.

Best,
Mark Terry

Christina Rundle 1/19/2007 02:54:00 PM  

I love bad-ass chick books. I'll have to give that a look. The book I'm reading is really making me depressed. How many problems can a person make for themselves before they are so weighed down that it's impossible to live?

Hope you are having a great weekend.

Colleen Gleason 1/19/2007 03:44:00 PM  

Wow! This sounds like a great read. I'm looking for something to use as a reward once I finish a project I'm working on...so maybe it will be this one.

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Susan Helene Gottfried 1/19/2007 08:41:00 PM  

FANTASTIC idea for a TT!

In fact, you might want to head over to West of Mars or Writing Aspirations on the 20th (or later)... we are about to pull something out of our sleeves that's up your alley!

Edie 1/20/2007 12:11:00 AM  

That was a great way to review a book! I wrote my first Thursday Thirteen yesterday. It was fun to do.

spyscribbler 1/20/2007 10:07:00 AM  

Thanks, Bernita! It's my way of forcing myself to learn. I don't know if I'm any good at finding the clue sticks yet, but I'm just looking for improvement. :-)

Thanks for stopping by, bubba! And thanks for explaining. I've had this idea in my head for awhile, starvingwritenow, but I'm as clueless as you.

Tell you what, I'll try to post a dummies guide tonight, but I'm giving fair warning that I may have no idea what I'm talking about.

spyscribbler 1/20/2007 10:08:00 AM  

Hey, thanks for the link, Mark!

Thanks for stopping by, Christine. I'm a Thursday Thirteen newbie, and it was fun and rewarding to pop by new blogs!

spyscribbler 1/20/2007 10:09:00 AM  

Hey, thanks for the link, Mark!

Thanks for stopping by, Christine. I'm a Thursday Thirteen newbie, and it was fun and rewarding to pop by new blogs!

spyscribbler 1/20/2007 10:13:00 AM  

LOLOL, Christine Rundle. That sounds exactly how I feel when my heroine hits the low point of the book. I'm always curious if that's how my readers feel. But then some will say how funny it was, and I'm left astonished, LOL.

Diana Peterfreund recommended your blog, Colleen, so I went. I was glad. :-) Good blog!

spyscribbler 1/20/2007 10:14:00 AM  

Thanks, Susan! Will do. I love discovering new blogs!

Oh cool, Edie! Guess where I'm headed right now? :-)

amy 1/21/2007 05:45:00 AM  

Neat blog entry..Thanks for sharing

spyscribbler 1/21/2007 10:04:00 AM  

Thanks for stopping by, Amy!