Friday, September 17, 2010

This month Neal Shusterman is my literary hero...

Okay, so I'm breaking my hiatus of all things bloging to write this post on a book I read and something I learned from it.

Something that I have noticed when my beta readers come back to me is that the beginning of my book was just plain slow. I felt like I had all the neccessary plot developments, I even worked on those, yet still something lacked. Luster? Life? Loveability?

There were elements every reader was sure to like, so I added those like spices.


I decided to read again, get some inspiration, study the pros.

One book I picked out for myself (to help me with my male protag's voice) was a book with a YA male MC written by a male (to totally emerse myself in testosterone...or maleness, or whatever). First off...Neal Shusteman rocks!! He is brilliant! If you haven't read one of his books, READ ONE. He is amazing. He takes a super creative out-of-the-box story premise and adds, not just a pinch, but a barrel-full of creative word play, humor, anicdotal whatknots. It's great!

As soon as I was finished with Neal's masterpeice, BRUISER, I went right back to my MS and re-wrote the first chapter. Let me just say I am well pleased with myself. I contacted my inner boy voice and got to work created boy-isms galore. I couldn't help but giggle my girlish giggle at the wonderful silliness of it all.

After this revision I had my brother (also a writer) take a look at it. It FINALLY GRABBED HIM! Yeah! (hopefully he wasn't just being nice...but that's what beta readers are for, right?)

So, here are my TIPS for spicing things up in your writing:  (AKA, what I learned)

  • If your writing is lackluster (and you are even bored when you read it), try taking one sentence or a whole paragraph and make it a mountain of wit. (or just more interesting =)...

 #1 - The food in the cafeteria was seriously greesy. Christian chose a hamburger, it being the safest choice by far.

  #2 - Christian chose a delightful looking concoction known as ‘Cheeseburger and Fries’, though it looked more like a swamp land of hydrogenated vegetable oil with bits of grain and potato doing the backstroke in its glossy surface. 

Better 1 or better 2? You tell me?

Here's another...

  #1 -  His dad, who began studying paperwork the moment he sat down, wouldn’t even glance Christian’s way until the flight was over.

 #2 - Major Lewis looked like a modern-day Napoleon pouring over maps and plotting battle strategies, only there were no maps, just paperwork; and, as far as Christian knew the only battles his dad was plotting were with his son, not the world.

Here is an example of Herr Shusterman's writing. #1 is what I would have written, (borrrrrriiiing) #2 is what he wrote... (BRILLIANT!!!)

  #1 - Bronte said, "Excuse me, but I can take care of myself." To which I merely responded, "I think not."

  #2 - (and I quote) 'My sister, Bronte, gives me a look that says Excuse me, but I can take care of myself, and she says, "Excuse me, but I can take care of myself." She learned that look from our mother, God rest her soul. I give Bronte back a look that says I think not, and say, "You gonna eat that piece of pizza?"

Yeah, I love that book. I may have to leave my husband for that book. Okay, maybe not, but it's totally superb.

I am also working on making my scary (or even just barely iffy) scenes more tense. I added elements, physical feelings, sounds, built the emotional plank, so to speak. RAISE THOSE STAKES!!!

Hope this helps all of you out in Wunderland. (Yes I meant to spell it that way). Maybe you are now inspired and will write a million times better than me. Well, maybe not, I know I am preeeettty amazing! =)


K.M. Weiland said...

Excellent examples. And you gotta love a guy who would name a female character Bronte.

Jo Schaffer said...

Great post.
I am currently revising my book with an editor. It is work! But I can see how the challenge can be fun too.
I should try one of his books to get some ideas for spicing up my narrative. (=