Wednesday, May 04, 2011

What's New On the Bookshelf?

Today Blogathoners are writing about five favorite books on how to write. I don't have five favorite books on how to write and have reached the following conclusion: to write well, read well-written books. If you are fortunate enough to live in Boston, attend courses at Grub Street. This winter I left Wellfleet for two months and took several writing courses, including an extraordinary seminar by Michelle Hoover, who teaches at BU, as well as Grub Street.

My teacher had just published her first novel, The Quickening. What Michelle does well is create characters, who feel real, and a setting that is totally believable in which her characters fit perfectly. During the seminar, she told us her novel took seven years to write. What’s more, she rewrote it several times. Here's a brief summary:

Life was not easy on a upper Midwest farm in the 1900s. A farmer’s wife had to contend with exhaustion, as well as the weather, boredom and loneliness. Michelle’s two main characters might have been friends had they lived in modern times. When you finish reading The Quickening, you feel as if you had entered a time machine and played fly-on-the-wall in the homes of Enidina and Mary. By the end of the story, the reader has the impression he/she has known these two women for years.

I recognize a really good book by not wanting it to end. That's how The Quickening made me feel....