Thursday, January 25, 2007

Thursday Thirteen Things I Learned #2

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?)

Thirteen Things I Learned From Natalie R. Collins's Behind Closed Doors
  • 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!)
Links to other Thursday Thirteens! Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

24 bonus scribbles:

writtenwyrdd 1/25/2007 06:34:00 PM  

Re #1, no you silly, it's so they can use the toilet! But did you know that the special undies are always supposed to touch the skin, and some Mormons do some strange contortions while taking baths, so that either the clean or the used undies are in contact with their skin? (Mormon relatives.)

writtenwyrdd 1/25/2007 06:44:00 PM  

PS, this is an excellent post. I linked to it in my blog, just so ya know. Also, I am of half a mind (my usual state, alas) to read this book. You make it sound like a good read, and yet you don't really say anything about it. Must be the high enthusiasm quotient, lol.

spyscribbler 1/25/2007 06:54:00 PM  

ROFL ... I suppose it's pretty obvious what genre I write! I didn't know that. How come I didn't that? I went to a Mormon church a couple times. No one told me all this secret stuff! And good god, my friend didn't wear those! Maybe she was too young!

Good book, writtenwyrdd. Definitely worth a read! Thanks for the link!

Susan Helene Gottfried 1/25/2007 07:12:00 PM  

A lot of Mormons don't wear those, is my understanding. Certainly, the woman who ran my kids' day care didn't!

Happy TT!

ancsweetnsassygal 1/25/2007 08:00:00 PM  

I had actually heard about the special undergarments and that they were to never be taken completely off, that they were always to touch the skin but I don't know if the modern Mormons still do that. Great list.

My TT is up on my 13 fav tv shows.

The Dark Scribe 1/25/2007 08:20:00 PM  

"Story is not a straight line, it's a ribbon with hills and valleys, with curves and folds."

Yes!! Great observation, and well stated. We can't have our stories meandering all over the place, but neither can we have them race from point A to point B without showing us a little scenery along the way.

On a side note, mormons are funny.

On another side note, monkeys are also funny, but not in the same way as mormons (no offense to any mormons out there).

writtenwyrdd 1/25/2007 09:57:00 PM  

I did not mean to imply that ALL members of the church wear those undergarments. My understanding though is that all Temple Elect are supposed to, I think as an acknowledgement that they are purified or whatever the requirements are to enter the Mormon temples. But that may be in error. I generally tuned my grandparents out when they started waxing religious. (They were Mormon, as is all my non immediate family.)

Sparky Duck 1/25/2007 09:58:00 PM  

wow, you actually make me want to read a thing or two about Mormons.

writtenwyrdd 1/25/2007 09:59:00 PM  

PPS, I was just kiddin' about that toilet comment. I have no idea. That's the first picture I've seen of those undergarments.

Janet,  1/25/2007 10:27:00 PM  

wow...those undies are HAWT! ;-)

spyscribbler 1/25/2007 11:03:00 PM  

LOLOL, really, writtenwyrdd? Well who knows? Against the skin at all times ... I guess that means ... wow. Wow. Huh.

Rashenbo 1/25/2007 11:23:00 PM  

Awesome list! :) Surprise endings are very hard... And, I totally learned something new about Mormon underwear today. Who says you can't learn something new every day?

Colleen Gleason 1/25/2007 11:30:00 PM  

Wow! What a resounding rec!

Thanks for the info and for coming by my blog.

Candy Minx 1/26/2007 12:39:00 AM  

What a list and what a set of lessons, my god! That is a lot of insight all from one sit down and wonderful for you!

The underwear photo is really a riot, and I agree with another poster, the girls are probably "easy access" for the toilet! Okay maybe otherstuff...a bit more info on Mormaons than I'd like to know!!! ha ha

Have you read Jon Krakauers book on the Morman scandal?

Thanks for your amazing comment on my blog and for stopping by!

Cheers have a great weekend!

Christine 1/26/2007 07:25:00 AM  

This is a very cool list. I love the picture of the undergarments! I'm so cold right now I'd love to have a pair under what I'm wearing. :)

Thanks for stopping by my site!

writtenwyrdd 1/26/2007 08:35:00 AM  

Hey spy, I double checked with my ex-Mormon mother, who says I had it right, the Temple Elect are supposed to wear these undies. She says that, these days, the undies are brief enough that both genders can wear shorts and tank tops.

Another thing about the undies you won't see in this photo because it isn't present is that over the nipples and the groin (and maybe the butt, but she didn't know) there are these little "eyelet-like doodads" which are supposed to be sewn on. They don't come stock because they are supposed to go exactly over your own, er, parts.

Temple Elect, btw, is the term for those who are allowed into the temple. Unmarried women are not allowed. But young men around 18 are "Elders." Cheauvenistic? Of course not!

But my unmarried spinster cousin is Temple Elect because she had a ceremonial marriage to a dead man, which qualified her. Of course she cannot now be married in the Temple, but I guess that at 44 she isn't worried.

Ya see, the logic goes like this: Men can marry more than once, just not simultaneously. But women cannot be married more than once, ever. This is the end run around no more's become serial monogamy.

Lisa Kae 1/26/2007 08:51:00 AM  

Hey Spy,

Thanks for your post on my TT#2. We have a few things in common. 1. You're in a double # year and I am as well (tho I'm 11 years older). 2. I LOVE espionage novels. I just made my way through Ludlum's Icaraus Agenda. I used to be able to read books in a weekend, but since I had kids (youngest is now 11, oldest will be 17 in March), there are less large blocks of time, but I'm reading again and that's a good thing. In fact, I told my husband recently that I had the perfect cover to be an agent. A married mother of two who lives in a semi-rural environment, who'd suspect me? Foster Care Provider and Mama by day--Agent by night--or on trips. Also, re Mormans, I admire their skills for food storage. My s-i-l is about to become a published writer through Writer's Digest books. Have a good week. I'm bookmarking your site.
Oh! 3. You also used a picture of chocolate in a recent post, another thing in common.

Amy Ruttan 1/26/2007 10:03:00 AM  

Great list. It's funny the things writers will come across when researching. Even world building you can come across some interesting things.

I'll post the Chestnut Soup Recipe on my blog soon. Ya, no songbirds for sure. Chicken breast works nice.

Happy TT!

Joy Renee 1/26/2007 10:58:00 PM  

what a cool concept to analyse the mechanics of a story to see how its parts work. reverse engineering of a novel.

the story sounds good too. its right in my field of interest--the impact on the development of personal autonomy of an individual raised in a tightknit, exclusive fundamentalist sect--like i was. i wasn't raised Mormon but my reading in the area of comparative religion has shown me there is a common dynamic among them. so i would be interested to see how Natalie Collin presents that in the interaction of her characters with each other and with their selves.

you're gonna think i left my link and ran without commenting. i got called to dinner after i paused to check my library's online catalog for the book but it isn't in the collection. just as well i suppose. i have more on my plate than i can handle between now and when our library system is slated to close in April due to lack of funding. that is what my TT is about. and not for the first time since i learned this the week after Thanksgiving. i admit i'm obsessed *grin*

this was my first visit to spyscribbler. i came thru your link on candyminx's TT. i like what i see. i'll be back.

spyscribbler 1/26/2007 11:15:00 PM  

LOL, rashenbo! Isn't that the truth?

Thanks for popping by, Colleen!

LOL, Candy. I was thinking more of 'easy access' for something fun! Would make a fun erotica story, for sure!

I haven't read that book, no. I'll have to look it up, though! Scandals are intriguing!

spyscribbler 1/26/2007 11:16:00 PM  

Oh Christine, me too. It's FREEZING here!

spyscribbler 1/26/2007 11:21:00 PM  

writtenwyrdd ... a marriage to a DEAD man? Oh wow ... the stories I could spin out of that one. Other worlds are so fascinating.

So true, lisa kae! Congratulations to your SIL! I found a great list of female kick-ass spy heroines. I need to find it again so I can share it, LOL.

I love writers who show me a different world, Amy. There's a great quote out there about learning history and reading fiction. If only I could remember it ...

spyscribbler 1/26/2007 11:27:00 PM  

Joy Renee, I'm glad you stopped by! If those are your interests, then you'll definitely love this book. You know, she has a blog, too, that talks about Mormonism a lot. I bet you'd like that, too. Here's the link:
Natalie R. Collins' Blog Best!

Anonymous,  2/16/2007 01:57:00 PM  

Amaizing. One to see pictures of garment (thats what we mormons call them) on the internet and two to hear all the half baked stories of how, where, or when we wear them. Some of the things that were written, if it were not for the sacredness of the subject, would really be funny.