11 Apr 2019: A Writer’s Lessons from Reading: Lesson Three

Yesterday I finished reading Catch a Fallen Star by Amy Vastine. A very … nice book. Here’s the back of book blurb:

Hitting rock bottom has landed country star Boone Williams in the middle of his worst nightmare: a recording studio on a horse therapy farm hours away from Nashville. He has no interest in dealing with his problems or writing a new album. And he’s definitely not interested in the gorgeous, feisty mom of one of Helping Hooves’s young clients. She doesn’t even know who he is! But his record label is one tabloid story from cutting him loose, and Boone can’t seem to turn around without bumping into Ruby and her daughter, Violet. Clearly, Boone’s not going to get what he wants. Could Ruby be just what he needs? 

I enjoyed this book.

It was nice.

Nice characters.

Nice plot.

Nicely written.

Now, by nice I mean … nice. Not great, not terrible. Easy to read, nothing complicated about it. Nothing deep, no subtext. Was this what the author intended? I’d have to guess yes. It’s simple straight forward and enjoyable, but don’t expect any deep thinking to come from it. I came across no words I hadn’t hear of before. I read no sentences that were so enjoyable I went back to read them again. It’s vanilla. Now, vanilla is a fine ice cream flavor, but I guess I strive for something more in my books, that almost intangible quality that compels you to read all night long, to savor the words on the page like honey and to shed a symbolic tear when you get to the last page because there is no more to read. I strive for mint chocolate chip or rocky road (my personal favorites!)

I suppose the lesson in this book is that there are many kinds of good books. I really liked this book, but it didn’t challenge me in any way. Sometimes that’s a good thing. Sometimes I read these really heavy books and a light hearted romp such as this is just the thing. But on the other hand, I don’t want my books to be so fluffy they lack substance. I would say this is the difference between literature and just a good story. There should be some art to your story telling, at least in my opinion.

I’m currently editing my latest novel. It’s good, but there’s a bit more fluff than I’m liking at the moment. In my editing process I try to think of my book as a block of marble and, like Michelangelo, I’m chipping away at it trying to free the literary masterpiece that lies inside said block of marble. (Sorry, my art history major past rears its ugly head.)

My lesson today is to strive for a bit more than fluff. I write mostly romance so you can see where this might be an issue. Fluff is an occupational hazard. Substance is the key, crafting literature out of the depths of your story. One must always strive for what might be just out of reach. It’s in the grasping that we find our literary muse.

Chicken or the egg???

With this book I couldn’t help but wonder which came first, the title or the story. What with the title being just a little too appropriate I honestly would be very surprised if the author didn’t decide to write the story to fit that title. Again, no complaints. Turned out to be a really good story, but it does make me wonder.

-Jennifer

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