Thursday, November 11, 2010

New Review, and I LOVE Norman Partridge

First of all, a new review of Hiram Grange & The Chosen One by Timothy Remp. Second, don't forget the on-going Hiram Goodreads Giveaway.  Must join Goodreads, then click "Enter to Win".  Goodreads will pick three winners, I'll send three books out.  Now, in other news...

Last night I picked up Norman Partridge's Dark Harvest on a whim and started reading it again.  I'd already started Swan Song, but I thought Dark Harvest would be great for my Creative Writing class to read - it's structure is so marvelously different - and figured I'd better read it through again before I assigned it.

I knocked off thirty plus pages in under thirty minutes.


I WANT that kind of storytelling power.  

I've gone through lots of stages as a writer.  At first, I tried to mimic Stephen King's voice, mostly because that's all I read.  So I indulged myself with that "Dear Reader" authorial intrusion but didn't do it nearly as well as King does.

Then, like all new writers, I committed two heinous errors: I described everything as vividly as possible and violated all the POV rules doing so, and used every adjective and adverb and semi-colon I could.

Plus, I explained.  A lot.  Did a lot of telling.  I went through a phase where I had this great MESSAGE to tell, a social commentary, so I had to explain everything the characters were doing and thinking.  I was writing deep and important life stuff, darn it.  Had to make sure the readers got the MESSAGE.

I went through a Bradbury stage - because I was reading a lot of Bradbury, had re-discovered Something Wicked This Way Comes - and wrote very flowery, lyrical prose, and learned I couldn't do it nearly as well as Bradbury.

Then I attended Borderlands Press Writers' Bootcamp.  Learned all the rules I had broken, even in the first draft of Hiram Grange.  Attended Borderlands again, and through multiple re-writes of Hiram, something occurred to me: what did I want to be remembered for most, as a writer?  Out of all the adjectives I'D used over the years to describe other writers in my reviews, which one did I want applied to ME?

My favorite authors -the ones I simply can't put down - write books that are so freakin' readable, they're like literary crack.  Every word and sentence flows seamlessly into a story where the words disappear and only the story remains.


Obsessively readable.  

So darn readable people wanted to read my stuff in one sitting.  I then realized that to be this readable, I didn't have to sacrifice content, substance, or message.

I just had to sacrifice WORDS.

Dark Harvest is so freakin' readable.  I can't put it down.  There's a whole ton of voice here, too...and not a wasted word.  But it's not deathly spare, like I find Hemingway and Carver to be.   It's balanced, with just enough of the right stuff and not too much of anything. 


Norman's not the only writer I've latched onto who writes this way.  F. Paul Wilson and his Repairman Jack novels have become the equivalent of literary crack for me.  AND, those novels are always 300 plus pages, but the narrative is so stripped down - Paul crams SO much story into one package, a story that's smooth as butter.

Ironically, what did Paul himself write on my novel sample at Borderlands last year?

Too much overwriting.

I don't want to copy Norman or Paul's voices, though.  Want to develop my own voice.  

But still.

I want people to read my stuff.  

In one sitting.

And not be able to stop.

I want my words to be literary crack.

But I want my voice to be my own.  And I think I'm getting there.  I think there's a marked difference between my Hiram Grange and the other Hiram Granges, but also a marked difference between Hiram and my previous work.  And in the novel I'm currently working on, my voice is developing.  Becoming my own.

And that, girls and when the writing gets FUN.