Saturday, August 18, 2012

A Study in Samples: A New Series

I recently found a writing ebook recommended on the OWW SFF mailing listHow to Improve Your Speculative Fiction Openings by Robert Qualkinbush.  Qualkinbush's book was a good, informative read about spec fic short story openings.  Thought-provoking.  So much so that I decided to apply similar analysis to novels--not just beginnings, but on what makes them tick, on what makes them purr.  Since I got a new ereader (Amazon's Kindle Keyboard), I decided I'd use Amazon lists.  (Mostly because this ereader has 3G, a must-have for someone who has no access to WiFi.)  Amazon has a Book list broken down by genre.  I picked Fantasy, and on my Kindle, it's automatically sorted by popularity.  From there, I downloaded samples. 

At first thought, a sample may not seem like enough to analyze.  But as Hooked author Les Edgerton writes, "A good, quality story beginning is a microcosm of the work entire.  If you capture the right beginning, you've written a small version of the whole" (7).  Edgerton is mostly concerned with material far less than a chapter in length.  Ebook samples often give more than that.  So if he can get so much out of a few pages, I feel much can be learned from a chapter or so.

And much can be learned about what works and doesn't work from such a sample.  You see, I'm not one of those people who believe commercially published writings are free from flaws.  No writing is perfect.  But that doesn't matter in this blog series, for the parts I want to tell are the parts that work well, because errors did not shoot a particular novel up the ranks, its excellencies did.  And a lot can be learned from the good stuff.

That being said, I have finished my first sample: Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews.


Edgerton, Les.  Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One and Never Lets Them Go.  Cincinnati: Writer's Digest Books, 2007.  Kindle Edition.


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