book recommendation and writing tips

I’d like to recommend the book, Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell.  So often writers search for help in their work, particularly looking at story structure and other techniques. It’s surprising how much tips from editor Cheryl Klein or screenwriter Matt bird or writer Dan Wells can offer an approach to a clear-eyed revision of a draft.     Here are a few links to show what I mean:

Matt Bird: cockeyed caravan

            But simply reading Mitchell’s novel, Cloud Atlas, a writer can marvel at structure.  Mitchell takes 6 seemingly unrelated stories, all in different time periods and settings, all with different writing styles and connects them.  He connects them by one small link—the protagonist in the second story reads a diary written by the protagonist in the first and so on.  But the connection is usually a mere reference.  The first five stories are incomplete, but the sixth is a full work with a beginning, middle, and end.  The novel then reverses and goes back to the fifth story, the fourth, etc.  In the sixth story, Mitchell not only uses the fresh language of the first five stories, he offers a very futuristic language, abbreviating words which might seem to be the direct result or transition from the text-messaging of today, but also offers new words that give enough of today’s meaning to be understood—joysome, for instance.  So an author can learn so much from writing tips from editors and experienced writers, but as always from reading and reading and reading.

About Sally Hobart Alexander

Blinded at the age of twenty-six, I left California and elementary school teaching for life in Pittsburgh, Pa. There, I met my husband, got a Masters' degree in social work, had two kids, now 35 and 32, and became a writer. Surprisingly, the writing career led me full-circle to teaching, and I teach in Chatham University's M.F.A. program and lead two writing critique groups. Always, since the age of 26, I have traveled, not in the stereotypic darkness attributed to blindness, but a mist. My blog then, "traveling through the mist" will deal with issues in my culturally different life as a blind writer, teacher, speaker, and human being.
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