Why is she (or he) ready to die at such a young age? Do they want to go to war? Enact revenge? Or are they just sick and tired of the fight?
Archives for January 2015
I am constantly trying (and failing) to keep a list of all the books I am reading. I lose the scraps of paper, tissue, cardboard – insert anything you can write on- I scribble on. So I figured I would just put it on here. This way I can’t lose it, unless we enter into some kind of apocalyptic internet/bloggisphere destroying armageddon. In which case, we are all stuffed, and I probably won’t care what I read this year anyway!
This isn’t a list of my favourite or recommended books, just a list of what I am reading, which I will keep adding to as I get through things. I was talking to an editor I follow (Jamie Chavez) and she said ‘I read something very recently that said, essentially, good readers should share their personal reading lists publicly—the way Mike Gates does, for example.’
I took it to heart, and given my current ‘Reading like a writer’ series, I thought it was timely to share my list.
What are y’all currently reading?
I intend on adding a couple more pages to my blog over the next few weeks. Including: A list of my favourite/newly found useful words and a list of books in my writing reference section of my bookshelf.
I’ve been spending a lot of time with my head stuck in the dictionary and thesaurus recently, and I happened to see the episode of friends where Joey writes a letter. It made me chuckle so I had to share it:
Every writers best friend is a thesaurus, but the clip above, reminded me of a lesson I learnt a long time ago about over using the thesaurus. Some of the best writing is simple writing. Simple writing that is descriptive, but not overly flowery. There is a danger in using the thesaurus that we become Joey, and end up not actually saying what we mean, or worse, affecting the flow of our writing. I have done the latter. Affected the flow of my writing because I just couldn’t find the right word, and in the end I had to strip out all the words and resort to re writing chunks of paragraphs.
The synonym finders I tend to use online are:
If anyone has any other useful sites for synonyms let me know 🙂
Everybody has a list. But for a writer, it’s THE list. You might call your list a number of things but essentially, it’s the list of books that made you a writer. For me it’s a list of the most inspirational, favourite and most irritating books I’ve read. This series will cover the technical aspects of ‘how to read like a writer’ but for now, I thought it would be good to start with what you have read that made you a writer.
For me, but in no particular order:
1. Day of The Triffids by John Wyndham
Blurb: When Bill Masen wakes up blindfolded in hospital there is a bitter irony in his situation. Carefully removing his bandages, he realizes that he is the only person who can see: everyone else, doctors and patients alike, have been blinded by a meteor shower. Now, with civilization in chaos, the triffids – huge, venomous, large-rooted plants able to ‘walk’, feeding on human flesh – can have their day.
Reason for being on the list: This is the book that started it all. When I read it, it ignited an obsession with post apocalyptic stories and a burning need to write one.
2. A Disturbed Girl’s Guide to Curing Boredom by James Howell
Blurb: Hannah Harker is bored. Her tedious job as a local newspaper reporter is grinding her soul to dust and she cannot find anything to interest or excite her. Refusing to accept a life of anonymity, she decides to tear up all the rule books and do everything in her power to find a cure for this boredom. Free from the shackles of social convention and morality, she sets off down a dark and dangerous path that will change her forever. A terrible tragedy of her own making sends her spiralling into meltdown and the lives of countless people get dragged into her twisted world. Embarking on a brutal journey through Asia, she befriends arms dealers in Thailand, gangsters in Hong Kong and terrorists in Malaysia, while breaking the hearts of men and women at every turn. As the clock ticks down to a shattering conclusion, the world can only pray that she self-destructs before creating the most staggering news event in history.
Reason for being on the list: This book happens to be the first in a trilogy. It goes down as possibly my favourite story ever. I discovered it when the author had just 500 fans on Facebook, he now stands at 51K plus. I have to warn you, it is not for the faint of heart, and the further you go into the trilogy the more disturbing it becomes. But it truly is fantastic, and just because he named a character after me in the last book (true story, I am a HUGE fan! but it’s my real name not Sacha!) doesn’t mean I’m biased!
3. The Solitaire Mystery by Jostein Gaarder
Blurb: Twelve-year-old Hans Thomas lives alone with his father, a man who likes to give his son lessons about life and has a penchant for philosophy. Hans Thomas’ mother left when he was four (to `find’ herself) and the story begins when father and son set off on a trip to Greece, where she now lives, to try to persuade her to come home. En route, in Switzerland, Hans Thomas is given a magnifying glass by a dwarf at a petrol station, and the next day he finds a tiny book in his bread roll which can only be read with a magnifying glass. How did the book come to be there? Why does the dwarf keep showing up? It is all very perplexing and Hans Thomas has enough to cope with, with the daunting prospect of seeing his mother. Now his journey has turned into an encounter with the unfathomable…or does it all have a logical explanation?
Reason for being on the list: I can barely remember reading this book, however it is one of the few I read twice. I never read a book more than once. It’s a book I read in my early teens, and it stuck with me. It was the fantasy part of the story that inspired me, I was already long into my journey of writing stories but it opened up the world of fantasy to me, something that has never left me.
4. The Shack By W.M Paul Young
Blurb: Mackenzie Allen Philips’ youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his great sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend.Against his better judgement he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack’s world forever.In a world where religion seems to grow increasingly irrelevant THE SHACK wrestles with the timeless question, ‘Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?’ The answers Mack gets will astound you and perhaps transform you as much as it did him. You’ll want everyone you know to read this book!
Reason for being on the list: As a self confessed atheist agnostic, I struggle with people who are fervently religious. I have no problem with religion or people being religious. My mother had her confirmation just a couple of years ago, and one of my best friends is a pastors wife. That being said personally I just don’t get it. I need proof. And I love science. That being said, I am also a fan of the truth, and with all the investigations I have been doing of alternative history, my truth might not be the same as yours. Anyway, the book. I adored this book. It made me sob, hysterically. But what I loved, what this guys ability to question his own faith in such a courageous way, and the ending – given that it’s meant to be a true story – is pretty amazing.
5. And This Is True by Emily Mackie
Blurb: Once upon a time there was a boy whose home was a van and whose world was his father. Be warned: this is not a fairytale. Although it does contain love, betrayal, escape, and most important of all, a kiss. But you have to be ready for an unpredictable journey through a realm where nothing is black or white. That, of course, is why you should take the first step. A startling new voice shows us a painful truth: You can’t help who you fall in love with.
Reason for being on the list: This is the first book that ever made me uncomfortable. I don’t just mean a little bit uncomfortable. I mean had to shut the cover, squirm, take a breath, reassess my whole outlook on life, and then continue reading! and for that reason alone it goes on the list. But the other reason is because it made me realise how emotive a book can be, it can change you. I mean really change you. This was the first book that did that to me, and I want to do it for someone else one day too.
6. Divergent Series by Veronica Roth
Blurb – Divergent only: In the world of Divergent, society is divided into five factions and all are forced to choose where they belong. The choice Beatrice Prior makes shocks everyone, including herself. Once decisions are made the new members are forced to undergo extreme initiation tests with devastating consequences. As their experience transforms them, Tris must determine who her friends are – and whether the man who both threatens and protects her is really on her side. Because Tris has a deadly secret. As growing conflict threatens to unravel their seemingly perfect society, this secret might save those Tris loves… or it might destroy her.
Sacha hates the third person. And she sits tapping at keys on the keyboard all she can think about are the times she has talked aloud or talked about herself in the third person.
“Everyone says you’re mad if you talk about yourself in the third person,” she exclaimed aloud.
Annoyed Sacha waved her hands angrily in the air. Irritation brewing at the thought of how long (weeks) she has tried to write this post. Her aim, was to write the whole thing in the third person, but as she jabs the keys and her blood slowly begins froths and bubble in frustration, doubt settles in… Sacha isn’t sure she can even write consistently in the third person.
Sacha wonders why some people like writing in the third person. She knows that like everything there are fashions in writing. There has been a fashion for writing in the third person for some time, but the last five years has seen a dramatic turn around with the like of young adult fantasy and dystopian trilogies taking centre stage in the popularity stakes.
And amen to that, Sacha thought.
What provoked Sacha to write this post, was her attempt at reading ‘Uglies’ by Scott Westerfield, a book that has been on her ‘to read’ pile for some time. A book that to all intents and purposes should be right up her alley. But as she read it, she became more and more frustrated at the style of writing. It was, of course, written in the third person.
Of course Sacha isn’t trying to be biased, some of her favourite books are written in the third person. However, this particular book pushed her buttons. So much so, she genuinely screen shot particular passages and had to angrily text them to a friend who had read the book.
“But this just sounds ridiculous,” she whined, “don’t you find the repetition of the name ‘Tally’ annoying and disingenuous?”
The phrases that made her send these messages were something like this:
‘Tally found herself wincing’
‘Tally found she hadn’t forgotten to bring the plate’
Sacha doesn’t want to be mistaken, she actually likes the concept in the book, and is going to attempt to finish it… at some point. But ‘Tally found she hadn’t forgotten to bring the plate’,
“REALLY??” Sacha shouted cringing.
This is the perfect example of why Sacha hates the third person. First of all, why didn’t an editor pick this up? Sacha thought indignantly. Particularly because she has her doubts about whether it’s grammatically correct. It doesn’t exactly flow, Sacha would hope that authors at least attempt to set an example for how young adults should write English.
Enough, Sacha thought, before she ran out of steam writing in the third person. Using someones name seems disingenuous, it’s impersonal. Sacha likes nothing better than feeling like she is in the head of a character. Like she becomes the character. Sacha doesn’t think you can get that as well in the third person. Playing God, and writing like your God, if you write in the third person, is just a bit arrogant if you ask Sacha. Ok, perhaps she’s exaggerating a bit, but you can see her point… just read her overly annoying, written in the third person post!