Monday 28 May 2012

Writer Stuff - These Three Things ...

Anne MacFarlane did a great session at our local Romance Writers of Atlantic Canada meeting last month.  It was about "what makes a book great?" and she examined The Hunger Games, which is one of my favourite books in the last few years.

Near the end of the session she had us do an exercise to figure out what could make our books great.  

  • Write down three of our favourite books
  • Figure out what these three books have in common
My faves were Bridget Jones Diary (Helen Fielding), Persuasion (Jane Austen) and About a Boy (Nick Hornby).  Clearly, I have a little bit of a chick-lit theme going on.

After thinking about all three and what they had in common, I realized that in the context of that particular story, each one of the main characters felt like they didn't belong - they were outsiders.

Bridget Jones - she's not in a relationship and doesn't have a real career and yet everyone else (except her core group of friends) has those things.  She feels like she's fallen behind.

Anne Eliot - she doesn't fit in with her family at all.  They're either vain or vapid (or both) and when Captain Wentworth returns and everyone loves him, she feels like she's outside looking in, since she kissed him off years ago and now has to avoid him.

Will Lightman is a jobless thirty-six year old living off his father's success as a one-time songwriter.  Without a job or a family, he's completely on the outside of society, until he meets 12-year old Marcus who is also having a hard time fitting in.

Why do I like characters who don't fit in?  I suppose that's a question for my therapist (probably should get one of those).  But when I look at my own writing, I definitely see that same theme play out.

What are your three books and what do they have in common??


  1. My three favourites always coincide with whatever genre I happen to be reading. I can go from Laura Ingalls Wilder to Terry Brooks in the blink of an eye. I think the commonalities are always well crafted characters, although I can be a sucker for pretty prose.

  2. I loved that concept of Anne's in the workshop and was going to do a blog entry myself on it.... eventually. :p

    My books were Wicked, The Mists of Avalon, and a recent book I read Medusa: A Love Story. They were all fantasies about strong supposedly evil women who were misunderstood. So I think fantasy with strong, dark heroines should be my thing.

    1. Ha! Beat you to it ... :) And women who are misunderstood ... I like that one ....

  3. I love heroes and heroines who start out not thinking they're just ordinary, everyday people, but then turn out to be quite extraordinary. Hunger Games is an amazing book/series. It is definitely one of my favorites. Also, Beauty, by Robin McKinley and the Harry (sigh) Potter series. Great post, Nikki!

    1. Ah, Harry Potter ... love that. Have not read Beauty though .. thanks for the suggestion!!!