Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Learning From The Classics

I honestly believe a lot of authors are missing out on a great resource to improve their writing. I see them, repeatedly looking at the present day novelists in their genre and looking at the techniques they are using and attempting to repeat those ideas in their stories. While we learn from repetition (babies do) and yes, this is certainly a technique we can use, it is not really going to get you what you want. Instead, all you get are pretty bland copies of someone else's novel. Not exactly what you want.

Instead, I want you to turn to the classics. I want you to go back to the books you always return to when you want that great book to read. Turn to the "Canon of Literature." Why do I want you there instead of with the current books? Because there is something about those books that make them stand the test of time. 

If you think about it, the things that draw you back to those books are the basics of every book: the characters, the world building, the dialogue, etc. It isn't the necessarily the different plot twists, the hot sexy scenes that we tend to gravitate to. It is those basics. 

Think on this... what is it about Scarlett O'Hara that is so amazing? It is her attitude, her frailty, her weaknesses. Really, if you look at the plot line of Gone With The Wind, it is a pretty basic story. Nothing fancy. In fact, there is a pretty good bet that if you pitched that story to an editor or agent, it won't do much. 

As you think about books that you totally fall in love with, look to those basics., Look beyond those basic things such as "Oh, I love the use of first person" or "I love the way the author used emails for dialogue." Look instead to the deeper things. What is it about the things they are saying, the way the author manipulates you and your emotions.

That will get you to the heart of the things you want to work on with your own novels

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