~Part of the Swap-It Saturday Series~
I have started a series called Swap-It Saturday, where once a month I will be participating in a blog swap! Today's guest, and the first guest of the series, is Amy from A Magical World of Words. Me and Amy have become close writer/blogger friends over the last several months, and I am so excited that she is here today. She will be talking about what some of her favorite books can teach us as writers. Be sure to come visit me over at her blog, and hear me talk about a writer's worst enemy --- writer's block. Here's the post! See you there!
Take it away, Amy!...
Hi everyone! I am so excited to be participating in the amazing new feature Caitlin's created, Swap It Saturday. I'm especially excited to be on Caitlin's lovely blog today, and I hope you enjoy this post I'm sharing.
As much as I love writing, I'm definitely more of a reader. Well, I spend more time reading, (since my blog's a book blog primarily and I review books). But I love writing, I've spent most of my life writing, and writing is definitely a part of me; forever influencing the way I think, act, and dream.
For today's post, I'm going to share with you three books and authors who have influenced my writing for the better. Hopefully, you'll find some of these tips helpful as well :)
Let's get started!
1: THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN - by Paula Hawkins
This book is amazing, and I have to seriously try to restrain myself from babbling on and on about how much I love it.
Hawkins' writing is simple, raw, and punchy. But what struck me most of all when I first read TGOTT, was how short her sentences are. And more than that, how much those short sentences powered her writing skill.
For you: Flowery language and flowing sentences may have their place, but often - especially in emotionally charged scenes - short sentences are the best to use. They add a certain punch to your writing, and force you to be more concise and choose your words more carefully.
For me: Before reading TGOTT, my sentences in my novels were rather long. Then I started chopping them up and WOW: suddenly scenes became more powerful, more punchy, more gut-wrenching and more dramatic. It drastically improved my writing.
2: THE HUNGER GAMES - by Suzanne Collins
Another terrific book and one that has a very special place in my heart. Katniss was also the first protagonist I remember liking more than the secondary characters. And maybe that's because I could relate to her so much...
For you: It's the simplest trick in the book: base a character off yourself. If you want to make the character completely like you, go ahead, but simply taking a few traits of your own or at least sharing some things you've experienced through your character's own eyes can go a long way with readers. It immediately makes the character more three-dimensional and relatable. If you've been punched in the nose (and I seriously hope that never happened to you?!), draw on those feelings you experienced and turn them loose on your characters. It instantly adds credibility to your writing – even if the experience you tap into is as simple as twisting your ankle or diving into a pool.
For me: Before reading THG, I’d never thought of basing a character off of myself. Now I do it all the time: my experiences, my feelings, my thoughts are laid on my characters; one of my heroines is even incredibly similar to me in every way.
3: SPLINTERED - by A. G. Howard
Howard's Splintered trilogy is a gorgeously atmospheric retelling of Alice in Wonderland. It’s beautiful, and part of my reason for loving it is because her descriptions are original, vivid, and tangible.
For you: There's a fine line between flowery description and beautiful description, but you rarely go wrong by making your description vivid and original. Push yourself past the cliches and even the first descriptive phrase you think of. Force yourself to see the scene in your mind, then dig deep to find an original choice of wording to make it fresh and vivid. For example, the moon might look like a toenail at first glance, but dig deeper......what else does it look like? What else does it remind you of?
For me: I usually discard the first descriptive word or phrase I think of, and then force myself to go deeper. I try to get below the surface and think of a unique - but not abstract - way to approach the scene and describe it.
Thank you, Caitlin, for having me on your blog today, and thank you to all the readers and writers who read this post! I'd love to meet you, so please feel free to visit me & we can chat about books!
Talk to me! Are there any books and authors who have influenced your writing for the better? In what way? Have you read any of the books I've mentioned and what did you think of them?
South African blogger / reviewer / teenager / book nerd / film fanatic / coffee addict / feminist / aspiring author / fangirl / introvert / child of God