Thursday, October 4, 2007

Where's Your Bookmark?

It's a frequently asked question on the DorothyL list. "Where's Your Bookmark?" This group brought together by mystery -- writing that is. Booklovers, authors, readers, reviewers, we all like to talk books, primarily mystery books. Seems like in most books, there is an element of mystery, even in the badly written ones -- the mystery there is how did they ever get published? It is a great place to chat with your favorite mystery authors, too.

The latest mystery I read was by Judy Clemens "The Day Will Come" and the review, if you're interested, is in the November issues of Mystery Scene Magazine. I've also read a few non-mystery genres. A nonfiction that's been out for a few years written by Erik Larson: "The Devil in the White City."

And in the spirit of working toward writing and publishing my own novel, I am reading everything I can get my hands on about the Gilded Age, thinking that might make a great time to set a book that I could actually write. I'm no Diana Gabaldon, though. Where she can find pages and pages of information to impart, I can only eek out a couple of sentences, so I need to fill my reservoir of facts while putting pen to paper.

Not surprising perhaps, my bookmark is back in "The Outlander" by Diana Gabaldon. The fact that I am rereading a book, especially rereading it within the same year, within six months of having read it the first time, is extraordinary. There are so many books and so little time that rereading something just seems sacrilegious.

But I am so drawn to her characters, setting, storytelling. I began reading with the intent to study her methods, figure out her style, hunt down the clues that make her writing so addictive, I mean, delightful. I'm a writer hoping, praying, wishing and actually working toward publishing my own novel, so I thought it wise to study an author whose work makes me green with envy. I mean whose work I respect.

Wikipedia says this about Gabaldon: Diana Jean Gabaldon Watkins (b. January 11, 1952 in Arizona) is an American author of Mexican-American and English ancestry. Diana Gabaldon is her maiden name, and the one she uses professionally. Her books are difficult to classify by genre, since they contain elements of romantic fiction, historical fiction, and science fiction (in the form of time travel). Her books have so far been sold in 23 countries, and translated into 19 languages besides English.

Yep, that's who I want to be when I grow up!

I managed to get through the first sentence of "Outlander" with an eye toward technique. "Good hook," I mumbled. She set up the coming pages, the coming chapters with one sentence: "It wasn't a very likely place for disappearances, at least at first glance."

Rereading it here, I see that it could be leaner, tighter, more active. Maybe "Looking around, who would have believed this a good place to disappear?" Begin with a question that she will answer. But, that first sentence is about all I remember as far as style or technique or how she fills those pages. Instead, I stepped through the pages and did a little time travel of my own right into the midst of her book. She brought me there at the speed of thought.

How does she do that?

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