Jul 29, 2010

Writing from Reading

Favourite genre - not me. I grew up addicted to Stephen King novels (before they got weird), fell in love with The Great Gatsby and raved to you about the YA novel Unwind (in Read to Write). I like to share all the non-fiction books on writing with you, but today I've another novel I must praise:
Peter Temple's Truth

This novel has won the prestigious Miles Franklin Literary Award and is well deserved. If you write crime fiction, mysteries or urban stories, you must read this novel. Not even optional, you must. It seems at first a grimey cop story, with our protagonist trying to solve a murder at all costs, despite a corrupt environment, but it becomes so much more. Truth shows human weakness. Especially in our protagonist. Modern urban life is contrasted with rural bush culture. Conflicts come in the threat of man and nature and at one stage we even have to question our protagonist - could he really be capable of what is suggested? Even the title is so cleverly woven from threads of the protagonist's life.

I try to learn from good literature, and this writer has given me two gems of wisdom - flaw your characters and flaw them some more (Lousy Characters Rule) and don't let the written language stand in the way of the story. Temple plays with grammar, many sentences are structured so short they remove definite/indefinite articles and qualifiers. In a previous post, I spoke about power positions in sentence structure (First Impression and Lasting Impact). Just looking through this post, I can see my powerful first place of the sentence is taken up with: I, this, if, not, it, the and so on. Poor use of a power position. "Truth reveals human weakness" carries more impact than if I'd said, "This novel reveals human weakness".

I'll read more from Temple, but tonight? I'm settling into bed with my Kindle edition of:
Cinders by the talented Michelle Davidson Argyle
Check out her author site:


  1. I've not heard of this book before. I'm trying to create a list of 30 books to read before my 30th birthday and I'm sure there's lots of inspiration here!

    Good luck with the 31DBBB Challenge!

  2. Thanks for the informative post. I will read Truth.


  3. Sounds like a great book - I'll have to look for it :)

  4. This sounded like a really interesting book, especially since I wanted to focus more on my characters.

    I think this will be a fine example of how to flaw one's characters and how to set up a good story. Thanks for the recommendation. :D

    Write on and read on!

  5. I'll have to put Truth on my list. Reading *The Help* right now. I find if I read a lot of Jane Austen or English lit, my characters start talking in English accents. LOL

  6. I haven't heard of the book but because I'm a mystery writer, I guess i should check it out. Thanks you.


  7. That's great you read so many different genres. My favorite genre is fantasy, followed by sci fi, but I read literary fiction to try to make my own writing better.

  8. Truth sounds really interesting. Gah! I have so many books on my list to read! But I like the sound of this one. Thanks :)

  9. Sentences? They have to do what you need. Or want. What is the point of writing antiques for the IKEA generation?

  10. Jade - this is an Australian writer, but I'm sure the buzz will spread quickly - it's a dark tale but extremely well written.

    Journaling Woman - Enjoy!

    Jemi - You should find 'Truth' in all the usual places, I got mine from a bookshop, but saw it on Amazon as well.

    Vatche - a must read for flaw fans! This guy might be good at working out clues, but he really gets a lot of personal things wrong. Loved it.

    Jo - check it out, it's a great read.

    M Pax - lol, I'm very easily influenced by my reading as well. This novel will show you ways to add grime and dirt to your proper English accents on the sci-fi planet ;-j

    Clarissa - You're welcome, I hope you like it.

    Lynda - Check it out, it's definitely not the cosy type mystery, but it is great and you'll apreciate the Australian setting and bushfire references.

    Elain - lol, you're spot on!