Six Years by Harlan Coben
This was a fun read. Take it to the beach, definitely. But reading this book, which is fast-paced and wraps up loose ends and even gives the MC a chance to work on an inner issue or two, helped me understand some of the recent critiques of my own writing. I've been hearing that readers "enjoy their time with my character," yet want more description or more to the story, somehow. That's how I felt reading Six Years. I wanted to spend more time there, not just come along for the rolicking adventure that rocked the world of a staid, middle-aged professor. Then again, it can't be all that bad when you leave your readers wanting more, which Coben certainly did here. Like I said, take it to the beach. Just don't get so involved that you forget to turn over and burn your backside :) Happy Reading.
Wired for Story
I'm not going to lie: a lot of the information here can be found in other books or in a writing class at your local junior college.
However, that being said, there's some very interesting information here given from the angle of brain science/psychology that's good to read if you're writing. It's always good for a writer to find new ways to keep the reader in mind. Also, something different about this book that was overlooked in reviews I read before buying it: there's a checklist at the end of every chapter. These are "to-do" lists that you can use to apply that chapter's topic to your own novel/story in progress. That was a nice touch, and may be the reason I pick this up again to use in my future work
The Heroine's Journey by Maureen Murdock
I started quoting this book before I finished reading it. That's pretty much an indication that it's an important one for me. If you write women's fiction and you haven't read this book, read it. If you write about women and you haven't read this book, read it. I'm having a reaction that I've heard others have when they "discover" Joseph Campbell's work for the first time: how did I not know about this book sooner? It's especially strange for me that I wrote a master's thesis in the 90's about the mother role in british lit and somehow I never came across this text. Ah well, I've read it now, and I'll be going back to it. In fact, I have a feeling that as I complete re-writes on my current project I'll be revisiting this text a lot.
The only complaint I have about The Heroine's Journey is that it's dated. Just like the thesis I wrote in 1995 is not what I would have to say, now, about the mother role in our society, I wish we could have an updated edition of The Heroine's Journey. We have a beautiful updated version of Christopher Vogler's The Writer's Journey (which is were I read about Murdock's work), so how about a similar edition for The Heroine? I'm just saying....
The Writer's Journey by Christopher Vogler
A few years ago, I did comb through The Hero with a Thousand Faces and create my own guide for my storytelling. It was hard. It took a long time--time that I could have spent writing. If you are, like me, more a storyteller than a scholar, you need to dive right into this one.
If you are already a Jungian or a Joseph Campbell scholar, this book is not for you. Anyone else, writer or not, should give Vogler's work a try. If he challenges and inspires you to find out more about Campbell and Jung, he has done a noble thing indeed.
And, along the way, you will learn some things about why some stories fly off with our collective imagination and others...well, just don't. And if you are a writer and you've struggled with this problem in selling your own works, you can get some help here. Unless you don't care about what readers feel and think and you just want to write for you. That's cool. If that's the case, this book is not for you, either.
But there are several chapters beyond the "formulaic" bulk of the book that are worth a look even if you catch yourself looking down your nose at this text. The appendix entitled "Stories are Alive" underscores the importance of your character's initial wish for a change, but also emphasizes that WILL is at least as important as wish (quick, somebody call Rhonda Byrne...oh, never mind). And I did enjoy "The Wisdom of the Body"--yes, men can write about that, too! Although this man actually writes that your story should make at least two of your readers' organs "squirt fluids." Oh yes he did. But all kidding aside, The final section "Trust the Path" was a moving one for me and most likely the reason why, in the end, this accessible, amusing and very approachable book is a 5 star read for me.