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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tweaking the Writer

Digging deeper into my shelves. Have you ever noticed that a person’s bookshelves are kind of like an archeological dig into their lives? Most people will keep one or two (or twelve) childhood keepsakes around. But then...as they get older...people will hang onto more and more random books. These are the interesting ones. These are the ones that distinguish the evil geniuses from the fluffy bunnies.

Even before I started referring to myself as a “writer” I would gravitate toward books with complex characters. Books with characters that didn’t have stuff just handed to them on silver platters all the time. I like books where the ending isn’t always sparkly and unicorns (even if there are unicorns in it..). If it’s the right ending. I like it when the characters have to work for what they have. And I especially enjoy characters that are flawed and challenged. Characters that have a past.

It was because of these types of characters that I stopped being a 'passive' reader and started taking notice of the intricacies of the story itself. Specifically character development. 

One of the first books that I read like this, and will always have a place on my bookshelf, is "Ender’s Game" by Orson Scott Card. I cannot imagine the holy hell it must have been trying to get this book published. It’s not YA. Oh no. Not by a long shot. But the MC is a kid. But he’s a wise kid. And the subject matter isn’t kids stuff. Though they deal with it in a very child-like way at times. Ender isn’t perfect. He isn’t some know it all King Arthur type. But...things go his way, after a fashion. But the mind games played to get there?

The first time I read this book I truly started to see what a flawed character could be. One with issues that could still be trusted to save the day. Though, save the day for whom?

So. What books are on your shelf that tweaked your brain as a writer? What made you sit up and take notice for the first time?

6 comments:

Liza said...

The Thorn Birds. I'm not sure it was the first book that made me take notice, but it's one I always think of when this question is asked.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

A book that really makes me cringe at some of the decisions made by the main character is The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. You want him to do the right things, you want things to turn out right, but you know he makes major mistakes.

mshatch said...

I adored Ender's Game. Completely. It still has an honored place on my shelves. I'm currently reading Joe Abercrombies The First Law Trilogy and holy crap, talk about flawed characters! I wasn't wild about them when I started but they grew on me - along with the superb writing. Highly recommended.

Alicia C. said...

I've never read this...it was a book on several college book lists, but somehow I never did read it. So many books! So little time!

Alicia C. said...

Indeed...Kvothe is one deeply flawed dude. But man...that Rothfuss can write.

Alicia C. said...

I looked these up on B&N. Now..even MORE books to read/borrow!

I managed to convert a few people to sci-fi by 'lending' them Ender's Game. :) Never a bad way to lose a book...