Thursday, 15 January 2015

TCWT January 2015 Blog Chain

I am so used to being at the bottom of the TCWT chain, that it feels rather different posting stark in the middle of the month. Regardless, Hurray! to new experiences.

On to this month’s question then:

“What is something you feel is generally written well in fiction? What is something you feel is generally written poorly?”

Now this question got me and got me good. More like exposing the skeletons in my book closet. I generally hate being in a position such as the one I am in. Saying what I like and what I don’t like that just makes me feel judgy. But that does not stop the fact that out there, there are works of fiction that to put it mildly just did not make the cut.

For you to get what I mean, I figured I might as well ask myself ,”what do I like in a good work of fiction?”

A big part of what consists like in my book? history. It could be the history of the characters or the historical period in which the book is written. This may explain why I am a huge fun of biographies and autobiographies. What history does for me, besides creating a stronger liking for the book , familiarity with the characters, the period, the place. In other words, makes me feel at home.

A good example would probably be “The Help”. Written in the civil rights movement period, the author  manages to make you even more at home since the setting is in 1950s Jackson, Mississippi and manages to drop names of civil rights movement activists like Martin Luther King Jr. and activists in their own right like Rosa Parks. The period is depicted effortlessly yet effectively allowing even the most unfamiliar with this period in history an understanding. You may be thinking that “The Help” is non-fiction and rightly so. That should be the thought, because the definition of a good work of fiction: it was so good, you almost thought it was real.

Vivid description lures me in to have a book listed as a well written work. This I have learned can do one of two things, work for you or against you. If it’s too vivid, using all manner of language ingredients just to make it “good” it’s overdone. Here I go then, not a well written work of fiction in one aspect, “We Were Liars”. On more than one occasion, I had to re-read a sentence just so that I could I understood what it actually stood for carefully subtracting the fancy language for understanding; a typical example of using vivid description to the negative extreme.

It would be awfully wrong for me to write about vivid description without blurting out my confession. I can’t write a good work of fiction to save my life. My saving grace, vocabulary. An attempt at vivid description usually leaves me asking myself questions which even I can’t answer when used to the extreme. A normal dose of my descriptive writing for me feels too scanty. Why am I telling you this? Because this either makes me a good judge of vivid description, since it is my writing dream to master the craft, or an incompetent judge(see how I cleverly avoided the word bad?) because I wouldn’t know what’s good from bad descriptive writing. You be the judge within my judgment.

But when there is nostalgia in a good work of fiction,that pretty much wins the lottery in my head. It’s become quite common for writers to do this through adding a soundtrack to their books. It makes it better, heavier and  a base is established. You can tell a lot about a character from the music they like and or the time in which the book was written. Eleanor and Park for instance its 80s rock not Cindy Lauper or Madonna 80s. That explained a lot about Eleanor and Park; their wardrobe, their emotion, their interests. Again putting a picture in my head whereby I could fully and clearly see everything and anything about Eleanor and Park unfold.

The same goes for “This Song Will Save Your Life”, “If I stay” and feel free to comment on any other book that shares the same. Please note, this does not necessarily mean that I think these were good books, for that you can wait for the review except the ones that already have reviews.

The end is usually what has the twist and turn, untwisted, the mystery, unraveled. Usually, the deal-breaker. Here ultimate judgment is expected. It can’t be too obvious because the thrill is eliminated right there and then. It can’t be too twisted because that probably means the reader was probably led on too long may I mention again, “We were Liars”? Then again the ending can’t be too final. Suspense is almost always welcome, be it in an unanswered question or an unturned stone. You can’t tell me in the “Hunger Games” you’re not wondering what happened to Gale besides the Capitol gig or Hazel Grace after Gus in TFIOS or what happened between Quentin and Margo Roth Spigelman if there was a Quentin and Margo Roth Spigelman. These are all valid questions, unanswered but valid. After all, if writers gave final answers to all the questions wouldn’t they be out of business? They’ve got to keep us coming back for more.

Be sure to check out all the other blogs in this month’s blog chain:

Happy reading y’all and don’t be afraid to comment !


  1. These are great ideas; I think what you said about The Help was especially thoughtful, because it's definitely high praise when a work of fiction captures you into its own reality. I also like the nostalgia aspect; Guardians of the Galaxy is a movie, but I loved that there was old music instead of the latest hits, just because it added an unexpected element to an awesome story. :)

  2. You know I am so grateful that your comment comes so close to the weekend because guess who will be watching Guardians of the Galaxy? This girl. Thanks Heather for dropping by:)

  3. Yes yes yes to all of this. Awesome post, Edwina! I love nostalgia in books. LOVE. And really history of any kind--really sinking into a story or time period is the best feeling, and the history of the characters does so much to strengthen that IMO.

    1. Virtual high five for being nostalgia and history bunnies! And thank you Hansen for reading!