Tuesday, June 8, 2010
The first book that I want to examine is Leota's Garden by Francine Rivers. Ms. Rivers is a well respected and wonderful writer. She's also incredible popular within the Christian fiction category which makes this the perfect book to examine. Although I will enjoy reading debut author's books this summer, I will not examine them on my blog.
So, lets get started shall we? Again, this is not a review at all. Only an avenue of learning the craft of writing a little better. I don't know about you, but I can ALWAYS learn!
Leota's Garden is 448 pages, or 163,091 words long.
I loved how most of the book is from Grandma Leota's (84 yr old woman) point of view. What an unusual main character! By writing one of her main character's to be at such a mature age, she was able to mix history and contemporary in one book. What could have been a dry back-story is now tales of days gone by, the brighter days of her youth. As the reader I was able to not only learn a little history but see life through an elderly persons point of view which added to the story, made it believable and I felt invested. Isn't that what we want our readers to feel?
The beginning of the book automatically pulls you into the story with a conflict and a necessary decision that one of the main characters is forced to make. However, once that choice is made, the body of the book falls flat with lots of introspective thinking and not any real action. You see the main characters mature and grow as individuals, but there is no action until the very end.
I suppose you can make the arguments between characters as pieces of action, but they result in nothing more than continued anger.
The last few chapters of the book are packed with emotions, decisions and arguments that result in changed hearts and changed lives. The ending was very clean and packaged beautifully. As the reader, I felt like all the loose strings were tied up and the bow was securely in place. Each main character is not only changed, but Francine Rivers shows how they changed by their new decisions and lifestyle rather than just saying they've changed their thinking and leaving it at that.
One of the main points I learned from reading this book is ACTION. It's necessary if you want to keep your reader from putting the book down. And not just action, but action that boasts results of some kind.
Also, too much introspective thinking can muddle up the story rather than make it clearer. On the other hand, some is needed in learning how the character thinks so that when you want to show change, the amount of change is better understood because you know how the character 'used' to think.
Lastly, I learned to take the time to package the ending securely and completely. Tie up any loose strings by showing the change in the characters, not telling about it. To allow some space for this when watching my word count. She didn't save the last two pages to tell how they've changed. She used the last few chapters to explain their metamorphose in character which made me as the reader feel like I got the full story and wasn't 'jipped' at the end.
Here's the Question:
If you've read this book, what have you learned from it?