I’ve been inventorying the writer toolbox over the past few days, ever on the hunt for new, inspiring ideas and you can probably guess the reason why.
For instance, on my night stand are a stack of books, and this past weekend, I spent time studying them, trying to decide which one to read first. Lately, I’ve been choosing books outside of the genre I typically read, which, in the past was literary or commercial fiction. For the sake the current WIP, I’ve been tuned in to suspense, thrillers, while still sticking to some grit lit for extra flavoring. Considering my last post, it would seem I need to hurry up and get cracking on reading a lot more of something, anything, that might jar things loose in this tightly, knotted up head of mine.
The books are:
- LIVE BY NIGHT, Dennis Lehane
- THE GOLDFINCH, Donna Tartt
- SYCAMORE ROW, John Grisham
- DEVIL IN THE GROVE, Gilbert King
Writing literary suspense (that’s my intent) isn’t pretty. It’s not cupcakes, puppies and sunny days. It’s not soft and warm, or easy going. And when you consider each component of the genre, literary and suspense, all by their lonesome, they each set a high bar when it comes to writing and executing the style with panache and distinction.
And, no, it does not help to know that.
Obviously, LIVE BY NIGHT, by the master of suspense, Dennis Lehane is a top choice. SYCAMORE ROW by John Grisham, is another great choice, although his stories reveal the ability write realisitcally about the inner workings of the legal system and about the efforts lawyers go to for their clients. And though I’m not aiming for a book set in a courtroom, I still think this one won’t be money wasted.
THE GOLDFINCH, by Donna Tartt, might seem to be an odd choice, but not really. When it comes to prose, I want to read a story by someone who is praised highly, and who is a bit of an enigma. Check, check. Sometimes just the flow of words, the structure of their sentences, choice of words, is what matters at certain moments of a story, not the plot.
DEVIL IN THE GROVE, by Gilbert King…well, he won a Pulitzer for this book. I bought it to study vigilante justice, and I figured if I had to read something about that, it might as well be by a skilled writer (Pulitzer!). My hope is it will help me to understand the psyche of people who take matters into their own hands, outside of the law, like my bunch of roughnecks tend to do.
And, as part of my latest hunt for more magical, brain unlocking devices, I’ve resorted to watching some episodes of Investigation Discovery (ID). I have to admit, the stories draw you in, and it’s absolutely chilling what some people will do – to their own families. It makes me realize my plot isn’t all that bizarre. And then, the latest HBO series, TRUE DETECTIVES, which just premiered last Sunday night, offers up some really interesting characters and backstory. It’s just getting started so, it remains to be seen how much that will squeeze something out of my head.
And…if all of else fails, I give up and go outside and rake. I have to admit, my yard looks great.
What have you put in your writing toolbox?