Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Black-Eye-of-the-Month Club: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Hi Meg,

Okay, I'm ready to start our conversation about reading like a writer. And what a perfect book we’ve chosen to kick things off with – there will be loads for us to notice, talk about and learn from in Sherman Alexie's book, Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

As we discussed, our goal is to complete our reflections about each book in a month, and then move on to another novel. Chapter by chapter we’ll take turns looking at clues the writer has given us about how to make our own writing stronger. 

Since I won the coin toss I’ll go ahead and plunge in, pointing out something that really rang out to me in the first chapter—something that we, as writers, ought to be conscious of in our own work, and that is this: The all important opening line, and first page--the hook.

“I was born with water on the brain.” I’m pulled right in. As the main character goes on in that first page to describe what it’s like to have “too much grease inside my skull,” I want to know more about the character, about who he is and how he functions. Sarah Davies, literary agent with The Greenhouse says, in her blog, “Start your story strongly so that the reader is grabbed from the beginning.” And Meg, how many first pages sessions have we been to where agents and editors pan someone’s work because the first line was boring and the first page, pale? This novel kicks it into high gear right from the gitgo and is ANYTHING but boring or pale.

Story Sleuths Tip # 1: The first line and first page need to shine, shine, shine and call out to the reader, “Get ready, you’re in for something special.”

Onward to the next chapter!

-- Allyson

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Welcome to Story Sleuths!

What happens when you mix two children's writers with the books they love to read? Story Sleuths--where Meg and Allyson dig for clues to improve their writing, through reading award winning children's literature. Join us as we read a book a month, and take turns sharing with one another, and with you, an insight from each chapter about elements of craft the author used to make the story work.

Stay tuned! We'll begin posts for our first book, Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, on October 1st