September 2nd, 2009


School day

I will not have time for much revising today since I have classes from 11-1:30 and then from 6-8:30.

While this makes me kind of sad, I did a lot of great revising yesterday so I still feel a sense of accomplishment. Knowing I'll have time for more writing tomorrow and Friday afternoons also helps. *grin*

I say afternoon because mornings will be spent at the kids' school. Thursday I will be observing a couple of classrooms (homework for my Education course) and Friday is my volunteer morning.

Early this morning I woke up to read the required textbook chapters for my Children's Literature course. The book is CHILDREN'S LITERATURE, BRIEFLY by Michael O. Tunnell and James S. Jacobs (4th Edition). Though it's for a course that focuses on reading books and learning to adapt them to classroom lessons in many different ways, I found the chapters to be extremely informative as a writer.

The first chapter focuses on "Why read?" and discusses unengaged and engaged reading. This was interesting, but as a writer the next two chapters interested me more.

Chapter two is entitled, "What Is A Good Book?" and discusses thirteen elements used to judge literary quality as opposed to personal taste. These thirteen elements are quality, style and language, character, plot, illustrations, pacing, setting, design and layout, mood, accuracy, tone, point of view, and theme. The book says three of the thirteen provide most of the information used to judge quality of fiction.

Those three elements are style and language, character, and plot. "When a book reveals its story in powerful language, contains memorable characters, and follows a compelling plot, the fiction generally can be said to have quality."

And then there is the question of "Taste." An author can pay attention to the elements of writing fiction and create an "accurate" book but still not win the reader's heart because taste varies.

I believe the reverse is also true. An author can not pay attention to all of the elements that define a "good book", but readers can be drawn to it. I've read some books and wondered how they ever got published (as I'm sure most of you have), but now I know why. The agent/editor liked them despite their faults.

Within these flawed pages, something intrigued and connected on a deep level with those in the publishing world. We may not know what it is, in fact, those who read it may not know what it is, but it is there for them.

I suppose this is why we are instructed to write what we want to write; write the story we want to read. The hard part comes in finding an agent/editor who connects with your book on the same level you do.

Difficult? Maybe. Impossible? Not always.

Write on.