January has been cold! I keep having to scrape the frost off the car before I can drive the children to school. And we’ve had lots of freezing fog. I haven’t seen the fish for a week or more now because the pond is frozen with a thick layer of ice. And to make matters worse, I’m nursing a heavy cold. I just want to hibernate.
On the writing front I’m in the very early stages of a first draft of what I hope will become Scarborough Rock, the third book in my Scarborough Fair series. So far 18,000 words and counting.
Reading has been a bit of a mixed bag this month, but fortunately the books got better as the month progressed.
The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry has been so widely hyped and it has such an amazing cover that I was keen to read it. A literary, Victorian mystery – it sounded like just my thing. The editorial reviews are glowing, but the reader reviews on Amazon are less so. Unfortunately I find myself siding with the Amazon reviewers who thought it was rather overrated. There’s just not much story. But my mine gripe with the novel was its use of the omniscient viewpoint which, in scenes with more than a couple of characters, leaves you feeling disoriented because the POV flits around constantly.
Last Bus to Woodstock by Colin Dexter is the first book in his Inspector Morse series. The series was turned into a hugely successful television drama called Morse and there was an equally good spin-off called Lewis. The books and the television dramas are set in Oxford and make great use of the historic and academic setting. Whilst Last Bus to Woodstock is not a bad story, it comes across as rather dated. The problem is not the manual typewriters or the telephone boxes (it was first published in 1975 so is practically a period piece) but the outmoded attitudes to women which seem neanderthal, even for the time. Also, I dislike books where the detective makes deductive leaps about the mystery whilst leaving the reader in the dark.
I turned to Set in Darkness by Ian Rankin hoping for something more up to date and reliable. This a dark, brooding novel is set on the eve of the first Scottish Parliament for over three hundred years. Its labyrinthine plot explores politics and the dangerous world of Edinburgh’s criminal underworld. There are three supposedly unconnected deaths being explored. Masterful plotting and writing.
An Unknown Woman by Jane Davis is a wonderful novel about identity and memory and what makes us who we are. It is richly layered, exploring the lives of not just the main character, Anita, but also those of her parents in Liverpool. This was a very satisfying read and one I would highly recommend.
I decided to try something new on The Good Writer website.
I thought it would be interesting to analyse the structure of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone using Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat story beats.
You can read the results of my analysis here.
I intend to do a series on The Good Writer, analysing story structure in other famous works of fiction.
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