These lessons, by one of our most consistent FaithWriters' Challenge Champions, should not be missed. So we're making a permanent home for them here.
Oh, and I just re-read the Divergent series, and she does use a lot of exclamation points. Probably overuses them. But since I found out that she was only 22 when she wrote the first book and 24 when she finished the third, I can give her a little grace. Though her editor should have caught that.
In fiction, there is an editors’ battle over the past perfect tense: some complain that authors do not use it when they should; others complain that authors overuse it. I will often use the contraction to reduce the FEEL (at least to me) of the number of past perfects: “he’d played,” “she’d thought,” etc. I also use the contraction to again reduce the feel of the number of conditional “moods,” since editors tend to complain about this, too. So, “he would have gone” becomes “he’d have gone.” But I do also often re-write to get rid of the conditional.
Also, (in dialogue only) I have sometimes used double contractions, but I think I’ve usually edited them back out because they seem to me to be hard to read: they’d’ve, we’ll’ve, wouldn’t’ve. What’s your view on these?
"When the Round Table is broken every man must follow Galahad or Mordred; middle
things are gone." C.S. Lewis
“The chief purpose of life … is to increase according to our capacity our knowledge of God by all the means we have, and to be moved by it to praise and thanks. To do as we say in the Gloria in Excelsis ... We praise you, we call you holy, we worship you, we proclaim your glory, we thank you for the greatness of your splendor.” J.R.R. Tolkien
I didn't care for Divergent at all, and didn't read the rest of the series. The writing didn't grab me, and I found the plot too derivative and the characters unappealing. It's possible that I'm just too old (but I hope that's not the case; I generally love YA literature.)
Interestingly, I don't even remember noticing her use of exclamation points.
Leah, you've posted recently with a few books you disliked. Can you list a few that you've enjoyed, and tell why?
Oooooh. Great idea for a future topic. You can hold off on responding, if you want.
I don't believe I've ever seen a double contraction in writing, although they're certainly spoken often enough. If I ran across one in a MS I was editing, I'd get rid of it.
But I do the same thing as you do in that first paragraph.
Okay, I won't give away too much, but in general, the books I enjoy are very much plot-driven. If it's a story that's not interesting to me, I can't get into the story. In fact, I'll read abysmal writing (to a certain degree) if the plot is halfway decent. That's why I'll put up with lame Christian stuff if it's a good cheesy romance. Honestly, though, I will skip the "sermon" parts of the book. That's also why I couldn't make it through The Hunchback of Notre Dame back in high school (I literally could not find the plot - to this day I have no idea what happened, since I never saw the movie either), and why I'll still read children's and YA books. I like all kinds of literature, both fiction and nonfiction. But if there's no plot, be sure that I'll probably shelve it (or delete to my Kindle archives).
That said, my favorite books are The Giver by Lois Lowry (will be a movie this summer!), Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers, & Perpetua by Amy Rachel Peterson (I'm friends with her sister). I have several more that I really like, but those ones I can read over and over again. They may not be the best examples of good literature, but they have a solid plot and I can see the characters in my mind. They also challenge me, which I realize is an important component to the kinds of things I like to fill my head. I am inspired to be a better person when I read them, and a better Christian.
And to backtrack a little, I liked Divergent more probably because I saw the movie first (and 3 more times because I liked it so much). I'll probably go see it a few more when it hits the $3 theatre. I know that many more people liked The Hunger Games series and I have yet to read it. But I really liked the plot of Divergent - it's quite action-packed, so there you go. That's my personal preference. Other people like descriptions and scenery and flowery prose, but I like plot and barebones characters, so I can imagine the story in my own mind.
I love The Giver, too--have read it dozens of times, and I used to teach it, so I know it backwards and forwards. I'm highly skeptical of the movie--have you seen the trailer? It doesn't seem to resemble the book in the least. I'll watch it, because it exists, but I'm kind of expecting to hate it.
I read the Giver for the first time last week, believe it or not (and not because the movie is coming out - related to my study of children's lit, now that I'm trying to write the stuff myself ). WOW. What a story! Not sure if I will see the movie or not.
Yeah, I don't know if I'll like the movie. But I will go in with an open mind, and maybe I'll enjoy it for other redeeming qualities. I've been really disappointed with the recent Narnia movies, though, so hoping that doesn't set the tone for other book to movie adaptions.
Last week I read The Fault In Our Stars (borrowed from the library) to see if the movie was worth seeing. I'll probably catch it on $4 nights at our local theatre, as it's not one I'm dying to see. But I liked the book overall.
Did you see this article? Adults Should Be Embarrassed to Read Children's Books I have to admit, her reasoning is pretty illogical. I've read plenty of children's books (like The Giver) and they have much more to recommend than some adult literary fiction. I once read The Poisonwood Bible and it was really good up until the climax of the book. The last section of it fell completely flat, in my opinion. Yet I can read and reread YA books multiple times, and I'm satisfied and challenged. Go figure.
Jan, you said in this lesson that you are not fond of the "show versus tell" style of writing. Would you mind sharing your reasons for that lack of fondness? And maybe a few examples of when "tell" would work better than "show"?
I'd love to clarify that--but it will be difficult from my phone, without a computer. (I'm on vacation.) could I ask you a favor? If i haven't answered this in two weeks, ask it again. I'll look for computer time to do it, in the meanwhile.
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