Writing, Reading and Dancing

Remember middle school dances? Basically a bunch of nervous, awkward tweens bouncing up and down. I remember. **shudders**

Usually – not always – as those middle schoolers become teens and young adults they learn how to dance a little better. They break away from the standard pogo stick move.

Writing is kind of like that. At some point, you have to break away from writing what you think agents and publishers want and be bold – with your ideas, your narrative structure, your words, your dialogue. Of course, it’s easy to say that but much harder to do.

I read a book earlier this week that gripped me by the heart and wouldn’t let go until the last page. I would put down the book and my hands would be shaking.

It was frightening, disturbing, moving, heart-wrenching – and I had no idea from page to page what would happen next. I had no idea what would happen in the end until I got to the last page. And I love finding that kind of book.

The premise was out of the box original; and yet, I was sucked in and never questioned the believability. It wasn’t just the plot. The writing was superb and carried me page to page.

It’s not usually the kind of book I read because even though it’s YA, I wouldn’t give it to anyone under 17. Extremely mature content. I saw past all that to the story. I cared about the main character. It had an ambiguous ending but with enough closure to satisfy the reader. It’s not the kind of story you’d expect to end with butterflies and rainbows. (And I hear there might be a sequel.)

What was the book? Laura got it right on Monday in the comments.

The Marbury Lens. by Andrew Smith

Be bold and dare to dance in your writing.

What was the last book you read that you had no idea what was going to happen?


18 Responses to Writing, Reading and Dancing

  1. Andrea December 10, 2010 at 10:52 am #

    Interesting. Actually sometimes I feel like I should do the opposite — pay more attention to what agents and editors want, and work on writing that is LESS bold, at least when trying to break in to the industry. I’ll have to look for this book!

  2. Sherrie Petersen December 10, 2010 at 1:31 pm #

    I have heard so many good things about this book! I read MATCHED a couple months ago and loved that book. I don’t know if it was so much that I didn’t know what would happen next. The writing was just amazing. I couldn’t put it down.

    • Laura December 10, 2010 at 1:55 pm #

      Sherrie – I hope to read Matched at some point! I read the first chapter and I’m sure I’ll like it.

      Andrea – It’s a fine line. Despite what all the agents and editors say – they’re really looking for a great story and great writing.

  3. Jennifer Shirk December 10, 2010 at 1:54 pm #

    Hmm…I think the last book that had be wondering what going to happen was Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins. Really fun YA book!

  4. Kelly Polark December 10, 2010 at 2:20 pm #

    Sounds like an intense book!

  5. Stina Lindenblatt December 10, 2010 at 2:22 pm #

    Great advice. Now I just have to make myself apply it. But then again, I did become a better dancer (I think) because I pushed myself beyond my boundaries and let the music flow in me. 😀

  6. Creepy Query Girl December 10, 2010 at 2:36 pm #

    Ugh, probably Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol. It’s hard to find YA that isn’t at least a little predictable. I’m def gonna look into the book above-sounds like you really enjoyed it! And as for middle school dances? *shudder* I have a vague memory of ‘the bump ‘n grind’ hitting our eight grade class hard. Some dances just shouldn’t be allowed in middle school. Yuck!

  7. MG Higgins December 10, 2010 at 2:53 pm #

    What a wonderful description. My kind of book! I’ll definitely be checking it out.

    • Laura December 10, 2010 at 3:08 pm #

      MG – It def. has to be the kind of book you’d like reading. But he did so many things right that it’s a good book to study too.

      Katie – I had no idea what was going to happen with The Lost Symbol either. And it’s okay to know where a YA book is going as long as you don’t know how it’s going to happen. But to find one where I have no idea? – is rare.

      Stina – Like I said, much easier to say then to do. 🙂

      Kelly – In some ways, I thought it was more intense than Mockingjay. Never thought I’d say that.

  8. Quinn December 10, 2010 at 4:30 pm #

    Love your advice! And that book sounds great, I’m going to have to buy it now.

  9. Karen Strong December 10, 2010 at 4:53 pm #

    Ha, I saw on Twitter yesterday that you took a dance break. How fun! 🙂

    I’ve very intrigued by The Marbury Lens. The cover grabbed me during a recent bookstore browse and the premise is interesting and original. Now I need to put it on my TBR list for sure if you were gripped!

    • Laura December 10, 2010 at 5:02 pm #

      Karen – I was dancing the other day and I made the connection to my writing almost immediately.

      Quinn – It’s a great book!

  10. Pam Torres December 10, 2010 at 5:43 pm #

    First, congratulations on winning my contest over at soimfifty.blogspot.com! (Just shoot me an email so I know where to have them send your copy of Possession!
    I totally remember my middle school dance, Stairway to Heaven, how the heck do you dance to that?
    Anyway, about dancing in my writing…it is hard to let go, we have so many censures in our brains.
    I am so happy to have found your blog. Great posts and I am having fun visiting your archives!

  11. Jackee December 10, 2010 at 6:01 pm #

    Wonderful words of advice! The older I get, the easier it is for me to dance my own way. I care less what people think. The last book I read that had me guessing was Mockingjay. I’ve read some great ones lately, but Mockingjay had me guessing right up until the last pages. :o)

    Thanks for the beautiful metaphor. Have a great weekend!

    • Laura December 10, 2010 at 6:33 pm #

      Thanks Jackee – I didn’t know what was going to happen in Mockingjay either. I love finding books like that!

      Pam – Thanks! I emailed you. 🙂

  12. Susan R. Mills December 10, 2010 at 8:12 pm #

    Okay, I’m definitely getting this one. I’ve been dying to know all week what book you were talking about. And this post is so true. We must be bold!

  13. Laura Marcella December 11, 2010 at 2:18 am #

    Woohoo! I have a good memory for the tweets I read. (Perhaps that means I should spend less time on Twitter… Nah!)

    Middle school dances! I have some fun memories from those days! I remember my friends and I wondering how we’d ever learn to dance. And somehow we did learn. Just like I remember wondering how I’d ever write an entire novel. And somehow I have a couple times.

    Can’t wait to read The Marbury Lens now!

  14. susan kaye quinn December 13, 2010 at 6:40 pm #

    Sounds really cool (I put it on the TBR list).

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