At Book Riot: 9 FANTASTIC AUTHORS WE’D TAKE A WRITING SEMINAR FROM
Which is a neat idea for a post! Did anybody else instantly want to re-write that title as “Nine fantastic authors from whom we’d take a writing seminar”? Because I did. I like a more formal style — mostly — except sometimes in dialogue, depending on who is speaking. That means I’m one of the people who prefers to tuck the preposition into the middle of the sentence, generally, rather than letting it hang off the end.
I can immediately think of a good handful of fantastic authors who might be able to run an amazing seminar, depending on whether they can teach something about style and narrative structure, which I imagine is not necessarily going to be the case. Still.
I would bet that zero of the authors mentioned by this Book Riot post would be on my personal list, but let’s take a look …
Oh, nope, I was wrong. I both recognize and agree with their third choice: Suzannah Clarke, author of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. I have to look closely at the spelling of the names in that title every single time or I misspell one or the other, so not sure I’d go to Clarke for advice on writing titles. Plus I doubt I will ever re-read this book. But the writing is absolutely beautiful.
Ah, and the fourth name is Jim Butcher! I didn’t see that coming. I’ve only ever read one Dresden Files novel. It was fine, but I haven’t read any more, partly because there are so many. Anyway, here’s what the post says about Butcher: Butcher is a master of pacing and constantly raising the stakes. In every Dresden Files novel, Butcher is able to pile on problems and enemies, effectively working Harry Dresden into a seemingly insurmountable corner before Harry battles his way out.
Okay, that’s fair — quite a few authors are good at that — I’ll see in a minute if I can think of a couple more names for this.
Those are the two names I recognize, but this post makes a good case for each author it singles out. Click through and read the rest if you’ve got a minute.
Now, here are some names that leaped to my mind for this topic:
1) Nicola Griffith. Beautiful style at the sentence level plus writing that is almost a sensory experience. I don’t know of anyone who does better at creating a sensual world using nothing but words on a page. HILD can also stand up with Clarke’s JS&MN for amazing narrative structure, plus I personally liked it better and will reread it eventually.
2) Since we’re talking about tension and piling up obstacles, how about CS Forester, author of the Horatio Hornblower novels? I recently read The Good Shepherd. Wow, is that a nonstop-tension story. It all takes place over a couple of days as a battleship commander escorts ships through sub-infested waters during WWII.
3) CJ Cherryh. She could discuss developing and writing alien species. No one does that better.
4) Ilona Andrews. They could talk about writing witty dialogue. While we’re on the subject of witty dialogue, Lindsey Buroker could also handle that topic in a seminar. Personally, I think that kind of dialogue is a knack, rather than something that can be taught. But if there are ways to learn to do it, I wouldn’t mind learning how.
5) Alice Degan / AJ Demas could be a good choice. Her One Night in Boukos showcases worldbuilding, witty dialogue, quick pacing, and a light tone laid across deeper themes.
What authors spring to mind for you, if you got to line up writing instructors at a seminar?