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Monday, February 1, 2016

Bonding, Sensory Descriptions, and Other Necessary Traits

When I start a new book, I know, almost in the first two pages whether I will continue. Although good writing begins the process—the absence of flowery adjectives and adverbs to muck it up—relating to the character pulls me in and I am gone.

Forget laundry. Never mind sleep. I gotta finish this novel.

Bonding with the character is a virtual handshake, a wink of knowing, and a familiar scene of understanding. The reader sees and feels the MC, invests their emotions, and cares what happens to them. To do this, the writer must give as well and construct personalities that are worth the effort.

As I’ve said in previous posts, one of the best tools is to take a novel you worship and pick it apart. What exact moment piqued your interest? Ask yourself why and use the answer as a learning tool.

The trick is to mingle the bond with a light touch of backstory, sensory flavors, names, and descriptions.

Easy peasy said no one ever.

Here is my process of breaking down a novel. 

Today it is Moon Called by Patricia Briggs.

“I didn’t realize he was a werewolf at first.”
Great first sentence. You know right away that this is fantasy.

“My nose isn’t at its best when surrounded by axle grease and burnt oil...” 
Can you smell it? Good sensory elements.

“I was burrowed under the engine compartment of a Jetta...”   
Oh ho. This is modern day for sure.
“...settling a rebuilt transmission into its new home.” 
Action. It moves the story and gives me an anchor. I am in the scene. The true bonding happens in the same paragraph. 
“One of the drawbacks in running a one-woman garage was that I had to stop and start every time the phone rang...It made me grumpy—which isn’t a good way to deal with customers.”
Now I’m hooked. Here is a modern gal who is working in a garage. She is repairing a car and knows a werewolf when she smells one. That makes her supernatural also.

She is grumpy when disturbed from her work. A werewolf is at her door, what will she do? And how does she know it’s a werewolf?

Deconstructing a book, asking why you like it, is one of the most powerful tools a writer has. Try it and see for yourself.


Toni Tona said...

Great deconstruction...and I'm going out to get the book!

diedre Knight said...

A great review with an even greater message - love it!

Liz A. said...

Nice. I can't stand a first sentence that I have to wade through to figure out. Short and to the point helps.