Tuesday, January 22, 2008

book of a thousand days

I read differently now that I want to write a book. For one thing, it used to be that almost everything I read was old. Some classic, some just old. Now I am reading modern young adult novels. (The category name "young adult" cracks me up. How old would you say a "young adult" is? Twenty-two? Most of the protagonists in these books are in their teens. Many could appeal to a child as young as nine.) Also, I have a new awareness while I'm reading. I'm paying attention to how the story is crafted.

For example, in Book of a Thousand Days, I am incredibly impressed with how Shannon Hale created the rich and evocative setting, medieval Mongolia, without ever resorting to long paragraphs of description. Or any paragraphs of description. The setting is conveyed almost entirely through plot elements and Dashti's colorful, lyrical language. I read Shannon's blog and I remember her saying that her books go through many drafts. I haven't read any first drafts of novels, but I bet that's the difference between a book that limps vs. a book that dances. Here Shannon compares the first pages of her first and final drafts.

I'm trying to decide if I like Book of a Thousand Days or Princess Academy better. Maybe I'll have to reread Princess Academy.


Karen ~ said...

I know exactly what you mean about reading differently - I do that, too (except my genre is mystery.) I notice things that you never pay attention to when you are just reading for entertainment.

Then I usually think "I could NEVER do that..." and get discouraged.

But when I am away from the book, my optimism returns. Maybe I should stop reading until I write my first draft!!

Cocoa said...

I can;t decide which book I like better either. I don know for certain that I didn't like Austenland very much. For some reason it just seemed...shallow.

Gabriela said...

I think that's awesome you want to write a book. I am so amazingly non-creative I couldn't do it. Sometimes I sit and try to think of a story-nada. Not even ones for my kids at bedtime.

Happy Birthday to your daughter-is she your oldest? My oldest is also about to turn 10. We must have been on the same plan. :)

Mallory said...

I'm taking a Young Adult Lit class right now. It's a lot of fun! According to my teacher, and most other sources I've come across, Young Adult Literature is aimed towards people between the ages of 12 and 18. Younger than that and it's a "tween" book, or children's book. Older and you're basically reading what any adult would read. The protagonist is also in that age group.

Hey, if you want any suggestions, I have to read 30 by the end of the semester, so I'm sure I'll have quite the card catalogue - and yes, we really do have to keep one - in case you're interested.

Calandria said...

Karen, according to Miss Snark (found the link to her on HipMamma) "cosy mystery" is a genre that isn't as competitive as others. I know what you mean about getting discouraged when you read a really good book. Happens to me all the time.

Gabriela, Lidia is not my oldest. Big sis Georgie is almost 13. (And since you and I are the same age, you know I started young. ;-))

Mal, I would love to get your card catalogue!

athena said...

i haven't read austenland. francoise has. she absolutely liked the book. i think she could relate to having a fixation part. she thought that was funny.