My theme for the A to Z Blogging Challenge this year is a mishmash of books, movies, writers and TV shows that have in one way or another taught me something about writing and helped me be a better writer. Some inspired my own stories and a few taught me what not to do. Each post is a one minute lesson on writing. And the IWSG blog is participating in the challenge. Check it out.
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss is a book that could be very confusing if you're trying to figure out a timeline for what's going on. The book starts in the present but it takes only a few pages for the reader knows there's something very mysterious and special about the innkeeper. And something sinister is happening across the lands. But then his simple innkeeper, Kvothe, starts telling his story to a biographer. His tale begins when he was a happy child traveling with his family's company of entertainers. The novel goes back and forth from the far past to the ominous present. Superior writing really makes Kvothe's back story intriguing and at the same time hungering to know what is happening in the present. And how did Kvothe grow from that young, eager student to the
The Wise Man's Fear deepens the mystery with sparse glimpses into the present while continuing to delve into the past. In case you couldn't tell, I love this series. Patrick doesn't write as slowly as George RR Martin, but he's not speedy either.
Lesson: If you do it right, starting a book in the middle (or is it the end?) can really intrigue and capture readers. Bouncing back and forth from past to present can also work, especially if tiny threads connect the events in present and past. Rothfuss has a few secondary characters who are so different and interesting, the reader really wants to know more about them. And he's an expert at feeding the reader tidbits. Painfully slow but worth it. This is something I try to work on in every book. As a reader I love a surprise at the end where I realize all the clues were there and I missed them.
“The day we fret about the future is the day we leave our childhood behind.” Kvothe in The Name of the Wind
“You are not wise enough to fear me as I should be feared.” Bast, one of the mysterious characters in The Name of the Wind
Do you enjoy books that are written in chronological order or ones that go back and forth from present to past? Are you good at doling out the secrets and clues a bit at a time? Have you read Patrick Rothfuss?