Friday, June 12, 2009


Have you started a new novel and it has you hooked, but you find yourself not REALLY reading and "getting" the wonderful nuances or the "aha" of how the author captures your attention? The characters are new and the writer's voice is new. You like the book, but you haven't quite settled into it yet?

Water Ghosts by Shawna Yang Ryan has been that way for me. As I mentioned, I love the setting: Locke, CA...the setting was the main hook...what a town! But now, on page 93, I know the characters well, I care about them, and the want to go back to page 1 and reread what I missed. Shawna deepens the characters for us using many writing techniques I have recently learned and discipline myself to look for in the midst of an intriguing plot...such as internalization with metaphors that blend instead of popping you out of the flow, the descriptions of the several characters' faces as their once normal world changes...they have glimpses that life will never be the same because of the three new-comers to their town.

As a reader, I feel their emotions and wonder how the changes will make or break them. As a writer, I admire Shawna for her subtle, yet dynamite skill as a writer. Her voice is and will be memorable. And when I'm finished with her book, I will have to settle into a new setting, a new author's voice, new characters or maybe I'll go back to another author I'm already familiar with: Lisa See and her new book Shanghai Girls. The transition will be easier.

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