Monday, December 8, 2014

Where the Voice Comes From by Peter Leavell



Peter Leavell
“Peter, I haven’t read a single book about how to write.”

The load of books I carried flew from my hands. Like missiles, they launched into the air. “You’ve got to be kidding me! I find that impossible to believe.”

I was at a book signing, and next to my table was one of the world’s leading authors. I’d been setting up when she dropped the bomb. And now, as I looked past raining copies of my book, Gideon’s Call, I saw shame and embarrassment in the author’s eyes.

How to fix this? Being a beginner in the author world, I couldn’t afford to offend. “Your books read as if you’ve mastered the art.”

She shrugged.

The answer hit me about the same time a copy of my book did. “You’re a voracious reader.”

She nodded, and then changed the subject. Thankfully, now we’re close friends.

The truth remains. This author is highly respected, and her books are award winning. So, how is it done?

Simple. A writer analyzes novels. Analyze and reproduce.

The writer I had spoken with had been a critical reader her entire life, and it showed.

She’d read one hundred, sometimes two hundred pages a day, and when she wrote, her analytical mind whispered sweet suggestions into her ear. The plot is too slow here. Kill someone in the manuscript. Or fifty-five secondary characters are too many. Even you can’t just end the book with a nuclear explosion and kill everyone.

I believe in studying the art of writing. I devour books on how to write. But I started analyzing novels as well, and it’s helped. There’s a voice in my head that whispers NO! It doesn’t make sense for two manly cowboys to walk into a saloon and split a cinnamon roll. I take it out, because the voice explains there’s not enough tension. Unless, of course, one cowboy gets a bigger piece and a gunfight ensues. But the idea isn’t marketable.

Don’t forget the importance of reading novels!
~~~~~
Peter Leavell is an award winning historical fiction author. He and his family research together, creating magnificent adventures. Catch up with him on his website at www.peterleavell.com, or friend him on Facebook: Peter R. Leavell. 
~~~~~

Gideon's Call
Based on true events from the Civil War, Tad longs to better himself, but is hindered by his skin color. When his plantation owners evacuate, they leave their slaves without any money, education, or leadership. Can Tad overcome unimaginable prejudice and family secrets to become the deliverer of thousands? Gideon's Call is winner of Operation First Novel 2011 and Christian Retailing's Best First Novel 2013.

20 comments:

  1. Not every author analyzes novels. LOL If the book is really good, get caught up in the story and forget to analyze. So I read it a second time...and do the same thing.Go figure.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Ane! I totally get it. I get caught up in stories, too!

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  2. I think we pick up a lot by reading. We know what we like, so I think we sift through those books subconsciously. But like Ane, when I try to concentrate on the analyzing, I fail. :)

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    1. Exactly, Sandra! Subconsciously! The little voices seem to steer us in the right direction, even if we don't realize it.

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  3. I had to smile reading this post, Peter, because that's exactly what I'm doing with the book I'm reading now...analyzing. :)
    Enjoyed your post. Welcome to Seriously Write!

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    1. Hope you're enjoying the book you're reading now, Dora! And it's an honor to part of the Seriously Write crew!

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  4. Like Ane, I get so caught up in the story that I forget to analyze, too! I hope my mind works like your, Peter, and does the background work while I'm writing! :) So glad to have you join Seriously Write.

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    1. Oh, I love getting caught up in a good book! I have to try and remember what the author did oh-so right. Thanks for the welcome, Angie!

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  5. I homeschooled my daughters, and I had them do copywork everyday where they would copy, word for word, well-written passages of literature. They learned how to write coherent and correctly written sentences passively and naturally by doing copywork. Same can be said for reading well-written works. Our brains learn what sounds good and right, and we begin to write that way ourselves. Writers must read. Period.

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    1. That's awesome, Nancy! We homeschool as well! I hadn't thought of doing copy work—they'll be be so excited. Well, maybe not excited, but it's a great idea! And you're right. We MUST be readers.

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    2. Probably NOT excited, no. LOL I used passages from books and speeches and poetry, too. And copywork always had to be done in cursive all the way to high school graduation. My girls (23 and 26 now) still have legible handwriting. When people comment, my older daughter tells them why.

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  6. Welcome to Seriously Write, Peter! As a writer, I love reading fiction and books on writing craft. As an editor, I often recommend reading certain craft books. Plus, it's good to always be growing in the craft, especially since readers are always growing (because they are always reading). Great post!

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    1. Thanks for having me, Annette! I'm finding it a little disappointing that being a professional writer has seriously cut into my reading time. It's worth it, though!

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  7. Awesome post. And we're back to the cinnamon roll, Peter! That still gets me.

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    1. It's still one of my favorites, Suzanne! Thanks for stopping by...

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  8. So glad you've joined us, Peter! I have to remind myself that it's okay to take time to read for fun - actually, as a writer, it's vital. Too often I think of it as a guilty pleasure instead of something that will help me become a better writer. I have found that when I can get totally lost in the story and stop my internal editing, it's a book well written - and one I should analyze. ;-)

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    1. I know exactly what you mean, Dawn. Those stories beg for analysis.

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    2. Exactly! That is so right on, Dawn. It's kind of funny, I just downloaded a list of all Alfred Hitchcock's to watch everything he made. It's a guilty pleasure... but one I'm sure I'll learn from.

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  9. Hey Peter, I'm so glad you're here. Writing time does cut into reading time. I hate that

    I always say I'm not a natural writer. I really need those craft books!

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    1. I hear you, Terri! Those craft books are vital, too. I am always reading one. When I started writing about 15 years ago, there was only a few options to read. Now there's so much more help out there!

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