Friday, January 14, 2011

Deconstructing a book

At the end of this this month I'm going to run a workshop over at a author resource website where I will deconstruct one of my favorite books from the past three years, For The Earl's Pleasure by Anne Mallory.

For the Earl's Pleasure was written by an author I know personally and I like her writing in general but this one book went much higher in my estimation than normal. The deconstruction class will be to analyse just why this book is on my keeper list.

So how does one deconstruct a book? I guess there are a lot of possible ways you can do it. I think for me what is important is to list the various criteria that makes a memorable book and describe how the book I'm studying fulfills them. For me the criteria would include:

1. Characters you want to root for. You want to fall a bit in love with the characters. It helps if they change over the course of the story, particularly if the change is brought on by the circumstances of the plot in a logical fashion. I think that happened with the characters in this book.

2. Sparkling, often funny, dialogue. I love good dialogue, where the hero and heroine are constantly exchanging witty and sometimes biting remarks. I like to write dialogue like that myself so I love reading it in another person's work.

3. A plot that keeps me intrigued. In this book the plot has quite a bit of complexity and I remember when I read it the first time I couldn't guess who the villain was until he was finally revealed. But when he was it was a "aha, that makes sense" moment. Very nice. Also this book has a serious paranormal element even though it is technically a Regency romance and the paranormal aspect of the book is essential to the plot and the character development.

4. A satisfying ending. This is romance, so of course there was a happy ever after ending. But even more the ending entertained me. The outcome was expected but arrived in way I couldn't completely predict.

So what I intend to do is examine this book carefully and show just how Ms. Mallory accomplished writing a keeper book. I'll look at how the paranormal element is used in the characterization and the plot. I'll describe the heroine and hero's goals, motivation, and conflict. I'll give examples of the dialogue and how it kept me entertained.

It will be fun for me because I always enjoy talking about books that I like and I love explaining why I think a book works. If people learn from the discussion so much the better.

Besides it is a good excuse to read the book several times over the next couple of weeks and what could possibly be wrong with that?



L. A. Lopez said...

I've seen the workshop on Savvy Author. Sounds like fun.

Mona Risk said...

Cricket, I do the same. I has become an automatic thing for me to critique every book I read. I learned so much by doing my analyses.

Joanne said...

Good idea and sounds like a fun workshop. Like Mona, I also critique every book I read now. I always find something!