From Lizette Wanzer (Get the Grant!, Sat., Jan 16, and Maximizing LinkedIn for Writers, Sun., Jan. 17):
Holly Brown's Don't Try to Find Me wasn’t what I expected, which turned out to be an intriguing surprise. While I'm not sure why this is shelved under the suspense genre, if you like solid, in-depth, tumultuous family-dynamic novels, you will enjoy this. The pacing is indeed slower than a typical mystery/suspense--but right on point for a Fiction moniker. While the story revolves around a nightmarish and serious issue, the mother's observations are astute, cynical, and often darkly humorous. You WILL laugh sometimes, even when you feel you shouldn't.
In terms of its vein and aroma, Don’t Try to Find Me reminded me of We Were the Mulvaneys. You think you can tell from this title what the novel will be about, right? I urge you to think again.
Here's the question: Which character truly "doesn't want to be found?" Marley? Or her mother? Hmmmm.
Note Three: Our Latest Favorite Book On Writing
From Lindsey Crittenden (Stealing from the Masters: Using Existing Models to Craft Your Short Fiction, Sat. & Sun., Jan 23 & 24)
A while ago, stuck on novel structure, I asked around here at the Grotto for any recommendations. I was desperate. Formulaic? Reductive? I’d take it. I needed help. A colleague recommended John Truby’s book The Anatomy of Story. I used it, dog-eared it, highlighted it, and fill out sheet after sheet answering its questions. Formulaic, yep. Reductive, a bit. But sometimes reduction is helpful — boiling your story down to its essence, so you can see the overall shape and driving energy more clearly.
Flash forward to this month’s meeting of novel writers here at the Grotto. While discussing the challenges of finding the right climax (or what Truby would call the Battle), we kept referring back to characters’ weaknesses and needs, as well as the Character Web (how these weaknesses and needs all fit together). We kept referring to Truby.
Fiction 101 teaches us that every character needs a specific desire, and from that desire comes action and conflict. Cinderella wants to go to the ball. Evil Stepmother gets in the way. Fairy godmother intervenes. Etc. But what Truby emphasizes is that, in addition to desire, every character in your narrative has a need (often unconscious) and a weakness. While desire is a goal outside of the character, need and weakness stay hidden and are deeply interior. Following her desire may get your character into hot water, but that’s only Step 1. Facing her need and weakness will bring about the change at the heart of a successful narrative.
Note Four: Upcoming Classes