Friday, February 09, 2007

My Latest Unputdownables

Today's Question: When you're writing, which would you choose: the precise word with the wrong rhythm, or the close enough word with the perfect rhythm? (No cheating and saying you'd find the right word with the right rhythm! We're pretending the above are the only two options possible.)

Okay, at Kate Sterling's request, here are some unputdownables, for those who're looking for one! These are making it through my scatter-brained futz lately, so they have to be pretty good. They're also eclectic, so one ought to work! If you want the official blurb, just click on the images. In no particular order:

1.) Joseph Finder, Paranoia: Read for the pacing and structure -- wow! (And the fact that you can't put it down!)

2.) Robert Gregory Browne, Kiss Her Goodbye (I couldn't put the excerpt down. The actual book hasn't been delivered, yet.) He's got awesome, impeccable rhythm, both in his sentences all the way up to his scenes. Read the excerpt at his site, and you'll agree!

3.) Diana Peterfreund, Secret Society Girl: I have nothing in common with a girl going to college. Nothing. And I couldn't put this book down. It may be chick lit, but it is SMART chick lit. This is the kind of chick lit that is going to bring the genre back into its own. Think Dan Brown meets Bridget Jones, but with better writing. AND think scatter-brained Spyscribbler read it in one day.

4.) Neil Gaiman, Anansi Boys: (See the I, II, III posts I've made about this book so far, for why to read it. Read and drool at the story-telling craft.)

5.) Dean Koontz, The Husband: "We have your wife. You can get her back for 2 million--cash. The kidnapper doesn't care that Mitch runs a small two-man landscaping operation and has no way of raising such a vast sum. He's confident that Mitch will find a way. If he loves his wife enough. "He does love her enough. He loves her more than life itself. He's got sixty hours to prove it." Total education in Big Concept. And a fast-paced, emotional book to boot.

6.) Greg Rucka, Private Wars: (I'm eating my words here. I still can't get into A Gentlemen's Game, but Private Wars is a totally, totally different story. Great kick-ass heroine, and a spy to boot!)

7.) Stephen King, Rose Madder: Pick this up, read the first page, and you'll be totally sucked in. I dare you to start it and not finish it!

I'm leaving some good ones out, but I'm sleepy and my brain can't remember them. Besides, I want to go finish The Cleaner by Brett Battles.

What was the last unputdownable you read?

11 bonus scribbles:

Bernita 2/10/2007 07:02:00 AM  

It may be cheating to demand there are only two options!
If those are the only two choices, re-write the sucker.

B.E. Sanderson 2/10/2007 08:51:00 AM  

I think I'd go with right word, wrong rhythm. Of course, I also had the overwhelming need to use the word subterfuge in a hook because it was perfect, but I got talked out of it because most people don't use it.

The last book I couldn't put down was "The Eye of the Needle" by Ken Follett. Before that was "The Adventures of the Stainless Steel Rat" by Harry Harrison.

Jeremy James 2/10/2007 10:08:00 AM  

The right answer, of course, is that "it depends."

It depends on the POV I'm writing from. For example, if I'm inside the head of a bookish academic, then the right word is more important than rhythm (unless it's a poetry professor).

But if I'm in the head of a smooth-talking criminal, or a desperate housewife ogling her pool boy, then rhythm will win out.

Stewart Sternberg 2/10/2007 11:57:00 AM  

Good list. I will usually go for the word with the close meaning that fits the rhythm. When I write, I hear a pacing in my head. I think readers do too. I think putting a word in context will help cement a meaning, turning it from an almost right word to a right word.

Edie 2/10/2007 03:31:00 PM  

I'll go with Stewart, hoping the 'right' word will come to me later. It usually does, or else when I'm revising, it will pop into my head. If not, I do what Bernita says and write it a different way.

Last week I read Jayne Ann Krentz's WHITE LIES in one long gulp. :)

Kate S 2/10/2007 10:59:00 PM  

Yep - I'm with Stewart and Edie. I love the rhythm, though Jeremy has a point about POV.

Last best reads: "In the Company of Ogres" by A. Lee Martinez and "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince." :)

I've read some good stories lately, but it's been a while since I've found a book I couldn't put down. I've ordered some recently, though, that I'm hoping will change that. Thanks so much for the recommendations - I'll be sure to check some of those out.

StarvingWriteNow 2/11/2007 01:47:00 PM  

I think fiction demands rhythm, and nonfiction demands propriety.

I'm trying to think of an "unputdownable" for you (is that a word yet?)... I'll have to get back to you on that. I'm hungry, and I can't think about anything but a grilled tuna melt right now. Sorry.

The Dark Scribe 2/11/2007 05:55:00 PM  

I tend to bash my head against the wall looking for the right words, so I'd choose the right word over rhythm. Touch decision, though...

Two books I couldn't put down: Wild Fire, by Nelson DeMille, and The Blade Itself, by Marcus Sakey. Great, thrilling reads, and while the former is a bit more apocolyptic, they both chew away at your brain at night.

Karen Olson 2/11/2007 07:07:00 PM  

THE CLEANUP by Sean Doolittle, HALLOWED GROUND by Lori Armstrong, GIRLS OF TENDER AGE by Mary-Ann Tirone Smith, WINTER'S BONE by Daniel Woodrell.

spyscribbler 2/11/2007 08:19:00 PM  

Oh! Thank you! Some good books above to add to my list.

It's a difficult question with no correct answer. I'd go for rhythm, but then better writers than I would go for that perfect word.

And Jeremy and Steward made awesome points. I'll keep those in mind!