The picture above is by Patrik Houštecký found at pixabay.
I love reading good books, those that don’t miss out. Simple as that. But those that enjoy writing are a totally different ballpark. I write mostly on this very blog, I do write stories every now and then, but those haven’t been published and are more for my own enjoyment, to stretch my own muscles in writing, but I have read enough novels and read enough books on writing to recognize a good writer when I read one.
I will give you three examples of writers,I could list so many, but these three in particular, and why you should look at them. Where, in my opinion, their real strength lies. It might help you become more powerful in your own writing.
Andrzej Sapkowski (The witcher)
You know the the witcher by now, as it has bled through other media by now. Games, movies, series. All of the good stuff. The books, and especially his short stories, is where it started. Sapkowski is good in two things. He takes what he knows, and runs with it. His short stories take stock at old fairy tales, and he makes them his own in a unique way. For example, he takes Beauty and the beast and transforms the dynamic, in one of his short stories. In his witcher saga novels, his strength lies in one particular area: dialogue. Many writers struggle with dialogue, to make it compelling, to make it matter. Sapkowski, in my opinion, has a masterful grasp of it and without any embellishments writes compelling dialogue that can hold you in it’s grip, without anything else really having to happen. There is a chapter, where he has the council of sorceresses talk to eachother and it was one of the best reading experiences I have had.
Jim Butcher (Storm Front and Fool Moon)
I can not talk about the rest of the Dresden series, as I have only read the first book and am close to finishing the second, but boy, has it been a ride so far. Jim Butcher writes in a fantastic first person voice, making you look into the head of Harry Dresden. I hate his full name as it is corny as fuck (not one of his strengths in my opinion, naming people, although so far only in the case for his main character).
Where his real strength lies, is keeping you hooked. He does this every chapter, when I noticed it, I couldn’t not see it. He keeps you hooked by using a very simple technique. He starts the following chapter a paragraph into the last chapter you read. So you are already invested in the following chapter, before you have even finished the one you are on, putting questions in your mind that you need answers to. Between us: this is what sparked this blogpost. For those that want to keep their writers hooked, this is one of the things you should look for, not starting your chapters to late, or to early, but at the right time. Butcher has a very firm grasp of this. He compels you to read, which has cost me hours of sleep already.
James Baldwin (Sonny’s blues)
I have only read this one short story by James Baldwin, I must admit. It is such a good one that I need to look out for more of his writing, but this one story, has one thing that you need to look out for. How to describe anything. His use of evocative language makes you see, feel, smell, taste and touch what he is describing. I won’t spoil the scene for you, as I couldn’t do it justice anyway, but when he does, you will get what I mean. When a writer is so good at evoking your senses, but not overdoing it, you are in awe. You want to read on. He stops the story with it, and I had to put the compendium down (The art of the short story by Dana Gioia and R. S. Gwynn, recommended by Neil Gaiman in his Masterclass notes and a must have in my opinion). Sometimes, when something evokes so much in me, as an autistic, I have to let it simmer, like a good wine. It makes me unable to function for a moment, like a beautiful piece of art, music, reading,… so I can digest it fully. Like a good wine on a summer’s eve. Like a good steak meal when you haven’t had one for months (a vegan alternative if you are vegan).
These 3 gentlemen give you their life lessons of writing in their work, if you look out for them, and their lessons and there for the taking. I hope you enjoyed this simple breakdown and what to look for when you read them. I hope I have given you a peek behind the curtain and you can learn from it and apply it to your own writing.