Dec 9, 2008

Keeping to the Same Idea

by Terri Wagner

Joyce gave a wonderful exercise post so I thought I would do the same. I took a creative writing course at William & Mary many years ago. Our instructor challenged us to take our favorite book ever and deconstruct how the author wrote it.

Did he/she use first person? What was the hook? How did the plot play out? What made you keep reading? Were there boring parts? Why? Were they necessary to the plot? Who was your favorite character and why. What surprised you? What challenged you? Was it a page turner or something you had to pick up and put down to think on? Why did you do one or the other?

Then when that exercise met his expectations (I had to do mine twice), he told us to rewrite the plot as we would have written it. To my surprise, I found I wouldn't have changed a thing.

Then we had to give an oral report on why we liked it as writers not readers and why we would change something if we could or, as in my case, not change at all.

For the record the book I used at the time was "Tennis Shoes Among the Nephities." Have to take those missionary opportunites when you can.

Re read your favorite book as an author and let me know how it goes. I'll do the same and report back to you, and I promise I'll use a different book.


  1. My favorite books keep changing. It seems like everytime I read one, it's my new favorite. I do have to admite that Shanon Hales "Book of a Thousand Days" was in a format I would never have thought would work but was adorable. And Jodi Picoult's Finding faith in first person present was confining where as her next one in third person was much better.

  2. This exercise is a wonderful idea, Terri! I'll definitely have to try it, though I don't know on which book yet. :-)

  3. I have a hard time reading books from start to finish, no matter how well written. Newspapers are a different story. I read at least two daily, from beginning to end. Weird, huh?


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