Thursday, February 14, 2013

Overcoming flat writing syndrome - the books I read for inspiration

I recently started a new manuscript, and while the story is finally off to a good start, I had a few bumpy months where I couldn't seem to find my rhythm. Everything I wrote felt flat and uninspired. I deleted more words than I wrote. It was frustrating as hell.

Then I read a short story by one of my favorite authors, Laini Taylor. Her writing is rich, layered and anything BUT flat. Suddenly I found myself reaching for the notebook I keep on my nightstand every 5 minutes, unable to stop the ideas and words from flowing.

That's when I realized that the best cure for flat writing is reading. But I can't read just any old thing. I need to read stories that are so beautifully written that the words dance off the page and inspire me to write something magical, or that are so well crafted they make me wonder what in the heck I'm doing attempting this whole writing thing in the first place.

Lips Touch Three Times, by Laini TaylorFor those of you who might be suffering from flat writing syndrome, I thought I'd share the recent reads and re-reads that have helped pull me out of my funk.  I'd also love to hear any suggestions you have since I'm quickly running out of books.  What do you read for inspiration?

Lips Touch Three Times, by Laini Taylor
This is a compilation of three short stories, and while I loved them all, it was Goblin Fruit that finally yanked me from my flat writing funk. It's impossible not to find inspiration in her beautiful descriptions and rich character building. Love, love, love.

Wintergirls, by Laurie Halse Anderson
The Scorpio Races, by Maggie StiefvaterReally, anything LHA writes inspires me, but I found the voice and prose in Wintergirls especially motivational. LHA lets us see through Lia's eyes in an unapologetic and raw way - it's a great example of showing emotion through strong dialogue and vivid imagery. 

Scorpio Races, by Maggie Stiefvater
I love, love, love this book. From the voice, to the scenery, to the heart-pounding scene when the water horses are loose in the rain.  This book just makes me want to write. Period.

Pandemonium, by Lauren Oliver
I love Oliver's use of metaphor, to the extent that I think we may have been soul sisters in another life. She inspires me think about new descriptions (buildings as teeth? open mouths as cathedrals? Amazing...) in ways that are unique without being distracting.

One Day, by David Nicholls
This one's a little rouge since it's not YA, but I love the way Nicholls weaves humor into descriptions.  There is something both clever and honest about his writing that I find inspiring.

The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
The Sky is Everywhere, by Jandy Nelson
Beautiful imagery. Great characters. So much to be inspired by!

Middle Sex, by Jeffrey Eugenides
I mean, it won a Pulitzer.  What more can I say?  And on that note, I think you could pick up any Pulitzer Prize winner and find inspiration in the language and story.

What books inspire you to write?  I need suggestions!

1 comment:

  1. Anything by John Green, Robert Frost's poetry, Fitzgerald, Rushdie, Sonya Sones, Ellen Hopkins, and I second the LHA.