Wednesday 23 March 2011

Book Autopsy 2: A Love Story

In my last post I analysed the first chapter of Ira Levin's A Kiss Before Dying, but to be honest this was something of a soft target. As a thriller it naturally follows most of the 'rules' of contemporary literature popular with creative writing teachers and how-to books. Starting off with a hook, keeping pace high, using action to move the plot, these are all fairly standard for the genre.

My dissection of the first chapter still revealed some interesting things, but I think it would be even more intriguing to take the same approach with a book from a completely different genre: Romance.

However, I don't have a particularly in depth knowledge of the genre so after having a root around the web I've come up with a list and I'm hoping people will pitch in with their suggestions for which one I should give the Chapter One treatment (I have my hatchet at the ready). You don't need to give any particular reason, just let me know if any seem more interesting to you than the others. 

The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
Rebecca by Du Maurier
Love in the Time of Cholera by Marquez
Love Story by Eric Segal
A Room with a View by E.M. Forster
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
Summer Before the Dark by Doris Lessing
Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
Anagrams by Lorrie Moore
Lolita by Nabokov

They aren't all strictly what I would call Romance novels, but they all felt romantic to me, and not quite as plot-driven as my previous choice.

My aim is to once again try to work out how the writer has chosen to draw the reader into their world, what techniques they use to keep them hooked, and which 'rules' they break to good effect.

Feel free to choose more than one or offer alternatives. I'll be looking at the first chapter in as much detail as I can next week  to see what makes it work (I have to blog about something during the A-Z challenge so may do more than one).


mooderino said...

So far I've had one for The Notebook (because Nick is from North Carolina - which is as good a reason as any I guess)and one for Rebecca. And also one person voting against Pride and Prejudice.

Any of them strike your fancy?

mooderino said...

More votes in, one for Love Story and another for The Notebook.

The Notebook storms into the lead!

In case you're wondering where these votes are coming from I also have this list up on my Tumblr.

Anyone from over here feel like casting a vote?

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

My vote is for Love Story. It made a cheezy movie that was a huge hit and forever changed the way Cornell plays Harvard on the ice (the Big Red band plays the score for Love Story to mock the Harvard athletes). Also, I'm a Cornell fan (just a disclaimer).

Elizabeth Mueller said...

How would you classify these stories? I like writing books where there is a strong romantic sense, but it isn't the moral of the book, there is a drive for survival, too!

♥.•*¨ Elizabeth ¨*•.♥

Elizabeth Mueller said...

PS--thank you for following my blog--I'm following back! ;)

mooderino said...

I'm looking for books that aren't fast paced thrillers so I can see how they hook a reader without the 'ticking bomb' approach. Not sure if these are the right books which is why I asked for opinions on the list. Am open to suggestions of other books


Will Burke said...

Hey, if you're posting every day for the A-Z, you might as well do a few, eh? It would be interesting to compare a classic to a contemporary, as there's plenty to learn from, both.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I vote for the Notebook. P&P has been done to death and it's from a different time when what is acceptable in the first chapter is different than today.

HowLynnTime said...

Hey I love your pick apart the first chapter thing. Very fun to read.
I have kind of a strange idea but I think we could all learn alot from perspective if we did it. What if several people all read the first chapter of some book and we all did a critique so we could compare who found what - what stood out, what didn't fly well etc? You could have like five sign up then email the crits with specific questions - then when all are done - you publish all of them and see what agrees and what is really subjective.

Just an idea but I thought I would toss it ut there.

mooderino said...

Hi Lynn. I would love to have a bunch of people all do the same chapter, I think it would be very helpful to everyone involved, and to everyone not involved. Are you volunteering to join in?

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