As y'all know, last weekend was the first time in forever that I've sat down with a book and been able to finish it in one sitting. Yay! I forgot how much fun that is. Must cut my schedule down!
(Remember this is a learning review; I'm an author trying to learn, not trying to get you to buy the book. Click the book if you want to see what the book is about! And heck, why not get the book, too?)
- 1. Mormons wear special (under)garments. (Okay, this isn't something I technically learned about the writing craft, but I found it fascinating.) See the picture? Look closely. Do you see what I see? Is the female garment actually designed for, er ... easy access??
- 2.) World-building, world-building, world-building: I've always secretly thought that science fiction/fantasy/horror writers hold some of the best writers in the business. But Natalie has world-building down pat. She not only makes Mormon Utah come alive, she makes it a character in her book.
- 3.) It's all in the details. See above. I've learned so much about Mormonism, I was inspired to look up what Mormon garments were!
- 4.) How did Natalie make me read the whole thing in one sitting? No answers for this one, just a question.
- 5.) Juxtaposition is a cool technique. Just in the first 20 pages, she juxtaposes running from commitment with the commitment of marriage, and then the commitment of marriage with domestic abuse.
- 6.) Along those lines, opposites illustrate each other.
- 7.) Even moreso, opposites within a character can create a question and a hook. Why, if Michael loves Melissa, does he insist on knowing her every move? Why does he adore her so much that he’d serenade her, but controls her by constantly calling her on his cell phone?
- 8.) Layer story into your story. Sometimes I see plot as a straight line, with little subplots that scurry out and come back to join the straight line at their ending. But story is not a straight line, it’s a ribbon with hills and valleys, with curves and folds.
- 9.) Within those folds, a small story, particularly backstory, can serve to illustrate setting, description, character, and/or backstory. At least two purposes at once is a good thing.
- 10.) Form: In her novel, each step towards the goal is like its own story.
- 11.) Surprise endings are hard. After the second or third year of writing, endings became a bit predictable. We all know, by training, that the most obvious choice is not the whodunnit. That leaves the choice that we're being misled about. So what to do? I think a mystery plot might need three or four or five alternatives. I don't know. What do you think?
- 12.) Heroines can have tons of fears, and yet still be kickass. If I knew how she did it, I'd tell you. Heck, I'd even tell myself. :-) Very cool, anyway!
- 13.) This book makes me want to go back to school and write a theme paper on patriarchy and Behind Closed Doors. :) (And that's really saying something!)
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