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A writer should read. One cannot assume that they know all that there is about writing. If you don’t actually participate in workshops and classes, you should at least read to see the techniques of accomplished writers.
I have been very remiss in this area. I haven’t read a novel in quite some time. During the last days of our vacation we had two days at sea and a quick stop at Grand Cayman. Cathy had completed the book she was reading and she suggested that we get books from the ship’s library. I picked “The Crystal City” by Orson Scott Card. Orson Scott Card is big right now because the movie made from his novel “Ender’s Game” was such a big hit. I read “Ender’s Game” and the sequel, “Speaker for the Dead” about twenty years ago, so I thought I would like this story. It was a combination of a fantasy story and an alternative history story. I had never seen those two aspects combined in this manner before, it was quite entertaining.
It turns out that it was the first of a five volume series. I thought that it was a story of great imagination. Imagine American in the early to middle eighteen hundreds. Instead of the United States and Native American lands, the eastern half of America had the United States in New England, the mid Atlantic, and out to Chicago, but the southern colonies were still controlled by England. Spain controlled New Orleans and it was called New Barcelona, and the Native Americans had bound together and stopped the progress of the white man westward. This is the America of Orson Scott Card’s imagination. In addition, some people had abilities. It reminded me of the TV series “Heroes” with people finding out they can do things. I read the novel in three days, which was a new record for me. I generally don’t read novels that quickly but we had three days on the ship and we had to return the books before we left. I think “The Crystal City” is a good read for people that like escapism type stories. I didn’t think the plot was something I would want to invest five books in.
On the way home Cathy and I picked up mystery novels by Harlan Coben. If I’m going to read a mystery it will be by Harlan Coben. This novel is “Long Lost.” It was number one on the New York Times best seller list; the man is an amazing writer. This is a story of international intrigue and its main character is Myron Bolitar. I actually chatted with Mr. Coben many years ago during the age of the computer chat room. His screen name was Bolitar and he had just had his first novel published. I read that first novel and, when I picked up this book and began to read about Myron, and his friend Win, again it was like a reunion with old friends. I’m not quite half way through this book. It is really good. If you like mystery, this is a book to get.
I’m happy that I have returned to reading. This will definitely have an impact on my own writing. Reading the words of these great authors teaches me how to improve, especially in my description of a scene. I am in awe of people that can write with the flare and style as these two men.