Fiction writers take note. Well, I took note when I’d read the feature “true” story, A Speck in the Sea, by Paul Tough. Tough begins the true saga,in the January 5, 2014 issue of The New York Times Magazine— with a question printed on the front cover: HOW DID JOHN ALDRIDGE SURVIVE. I was immediately drawn into the story by the provocative question. All the elements of a best seller was evident as I’d read the opening sentence.
“LOOKING BACK, John Aldridge knew it was a stupid move. When you’re alone on the deck of a lobster boat in the middle of the night, 40 miles off the tip of Long Island, you don’t take chances.”
BACKSTORY, PLACE, SETTING, TENSION, CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT, SURPRISE-- all the elements of a best seller is evident in this non-fiction story.
As Tough wrote Aldridge’s tale, I, was swept away imagining how Aldridge would survive. I read on. What was he thinking when he was treading water reaching down to pull off his left boot. The boots, I later learned ultimately saved him. How he lived each minute in the black ocean surprised me. And I love to be surprised when reading and writing a novel. How the Coast Guard worked to pull him out of the sea must be read to be believed.
Hope I didn’t reveal too much of the fisherman’s story, but wanted to show how a good non-fiction piece can play into the genre of FICTION. Praise to the author of this story.
I blogged about this particular story because it happened to be one of the best NON-FICTION stories that like FICTION.
If you read this blog and read this story in the magazine section of the TIMES, let me know your thoughts.
Met with Matthew Thomas at the Marymount Manhattan Book Club. I was particularly interested in attending the event for a number of reasons. I wanted to ask Thomas a million questions about his book. How much research went into his book. Did he have an outside editor. How did he figure out the structure of his book. As he told it to us, research was prime. Reading his book, WE ARE NOT OURSELVES, it was obvious he was well read on the subject of the dreaded disease, Alzheimer. We discovered his father was an Alzheimer victim. And I do mean victim. He said he thought of writing this book as a memoir, but decided better to go with fiction. I'm glad he did. It's a powerful book with reality lurking in the pages.
I asked if he edited his own book. He said he edited his own book, with his wife's input. He wrote his book the old fashioned way, ink and paper. It worked for him. He sent out his manuscript to a number of "top" agents. He said he waited ten years before he felt it ready to send out. But when he sent it out, it was gobbled up by the right agent and was published.
What I was most interested in was how long it took him to figure out the structure of his book. His book begins in chronological order. Okay, you guessed it. My book begins in chronological order. I have lots of backstory. Now, I feel, maybe, just maybe I'm going in the right direction.
I'm editing my book as I go along. Then my husband, Bob. comments.
We shared a great night with Matthew Thomas who is now a famous author.
I read Chris Eboch's review in the SCBWI Bulletin, about the "Kindle Kids's Book Creator,"---it only enforced my delight in using I-BOOK AUTHOR to build my I-Books. From what I've read the Kindle version had some drawbacks. Anyway, I'm a Mac lover. The love of the Mac has been with me forever. I've got I-Book Author software. I created two books so far with the program. The Myth of Cyber City--A journey into cyberspace, into the phenomena of Information Art--where cyber robots build mysterious complex structure--on the back roads of Cyber City.
A Blueprint in the Wind. A memory book designed for my brother, Tom Parisi. My brother's music and his illustrations are in that book and live on in cyberspace.
Having produced two books, I decided to add another. The Myth of Orpheus. I am editing the text. I've got the illustrations. The music for my book is forthcoming. The I-Book is the perfect vehicle for digital art and music. Oh, I did show my art to an agent, but she said, something like, "I want traditional drawings."
So that's my history of using I-Book Author. I went the I-Book route.
In the November 17, 2009, Writer Unboxed—blog post, “The wild and the holy city: settings for fantasy,” Sophie Masson, shared her thoughts that setting and atmosphere are an important part of a novel. As she states, “Setting and atmosphere are always (at least to me!) an important part of a novel, but in fantasy they are often much, much more than just background or wallpaper for your story. In fact they can loom very large indeed, almost like characters in their own right, whether major or minor.“
By using essential sensory details, better known as “tools” you can create the perfect atmosphere in your novel. Whether your novel is set in the genre of mystical realism or fantasy, setting can play up the atmosphere where your characters’ live.
In my own novel, I have used setting as character; not that setting is a character, but how the characters experience the sensory elements. Is the table dressed in a fine linen cloth, decorated with fine china and crystal, or is the table set with mugs and plates offered in the Pottery Barn. What happened on that morning at breakfast? In a fantasy setting, the field is open to all thematic possibilities.
What comes to mind is a table set by Nancy Mather, under the sponsorship of the President’s College. She participated in a fund raiser event for Elizabeth Park, widely known for its expansive rose gardens. Nancy’s idea for a fantasy tea is set as if five Shakespearean heroines were attending.
Nancy's imaginative five characters’ are, Perdita from, Winter’s Tale, Juliet, from, Romeo and Juliet, Ophelia, from Hamlet, Rosalind, from, As you Like It, and Titania, from Midsummer’s Night Dream. The symbols reflecting the heroines were placed on the table by Lynne Gavin, along with the flower arrangements. The event was housed in a beautiful women’s club in Hartford, Connecticut.
The Shakespearean themed “Set the Table” demonstrates how table setting can create atmosphere for a particular scene in a novel.