Saturday, December 13, 2008
Photo by Andif
Yesterday's book dissection was lively, fun, and illuminating. The group decided that the book we were studying works because:
1. The author is not afraid of phobias. She uses them to scare the reader. We realized that in at least three of her books that we could remember, she uses claustrophobia, for instance, though without ever once calling it that. She put her victims in tight, dark, scary places. The most interesting thing about this from the viewpoint of the writers attending the group yesterday was that several of them admitted they had never had the nerve to write about things in their books that really do scare them in real life. After our discussion, they decided they might just give that a try. ::scary grin::
2. The author builds suspense by telling you what's going to happen and then delaying the happening. You know a character is going to be--for instance, and not from this book--buried alive, and you're made to wait and wait and wait until it happens.
3. The author is a master of using a limited time frame to build suspense, and she repeatedly reminds the reader of the passing of that time.
4. There are extremely high stakes.
5. Character is sacrificed entirely to plot. Every character is there to fulfill a specific plot function, and they are like individual puzzle pieces which, when dropped into the frame of the book, provide the picture.
6. Despite that ^^^, every character has his or her own resolution at the end, to tie up loose ends and to fully satisfy the reader.
7. The author gives readers both a mystery and a suspense novel in the same book. Someone in the group told us that mystery writer and teacher Carolyn Wheat says that in a mystery the reader is two steps behind the detective, while in a suspense novel, the reader is two steps ahead of the protagonist. The author of this book does both. Kudos to that.
I love my book dissection group!