Monday, March 23, 2015

unconventional writing tip

This weekend as I was doing some yard work, I was thinking about comedians.

If you haven't ever listened to an entire comedy show, I would recommend it. There's this thing that really great comedians do. Say they start their show with a joke about honeycrisp apples, and then they move into this topic, and that topic, and something else -- and then suddenly, they bring everything right back to honeycrisp apples in a way that is both completely logical and totally unexpected.

I think good writers also do this.

Take Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell for example. On pages 35-36, the reader learns that Cath's twin sister Wren is a bit boy crazy.

"Wren usually lost interest in a guy as soon as she'd won him over. The conversion was her favorite part. 'That moment,' she told Cath, 'when you realize a guy's looking at you differently--that you're taking up more space in his field of vision. That moment when you know he can't see past you anymore.'"

The narration then goes on to explain that Wren's last high school boyfriend never really converted, which threw off her game.

A funny, clever little way to describe the way a teenage girl views love, yes?

Until you get to page 362, and a new boy enters the story:

"Jandro didn't say much besides, 'It's nice to finally meet you, Cath. Wren talks about you all the time. When you post your Simon Snow stories, I'm not allowed to talk to her until she's finished.' He looked like most of Wren's boyfriends--short hair, clean-cut, built to play football--but Cath couldn't remember Wren looking at any of them the way she looked at Alejandro. Like she'd been converted."

Between pages 36 and 362, the concept of "conversion" in regard to love is not brought up again, but suddenly in one paragraph the whole concept is both called back and the reader instantly understands why Wren's relationship with Jandro is so special. In my opinion, little moments like this are what make a good book a Special Book.

So that's my unconventional writing tip for the day: Listen to comedy shows. Figure out how comedians do it.

Reading right now:

Article: The Righteous Anger of Girls

Book: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

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