Hello, and welcome back to Sabrina’s Book Corner! This week we are going to be discussing The Cellar by Natasha Preston.
The Cellar revolves around the kidnapping of a young woman named Summer. Summer was on her way to hang out with some friends when she was approached by a man who seemed to mistake her for another girl named Lily. The next thing Summer knows, she is locked in the cellar of the man’s house, along with three other girls.
At first, Summer wants to assume that there has been some mistake because her name’s not Lily. But she is forced to face the truth when she finds out the other girls’ names: Rose, Poppy, and Violet.
Hello, and welcome back to Sabrina’s Book Corner! This week we are going to be discussing Nearly Gone by Elle Cosimano.
Nearly is just trying to get into a good college. She is competing with her best friend, along with another student, for a full-ride science/chemistry scholarship. All three are evenly matched in academic achievement, so the scholarship will be awarded to the student who scores highest in the class.
Nearly follows her own rules: no bad grades, no trouble, and no touching. The rules have always served her well, until there is a murder at Nearly’s school and the killer seems to be calling her out.
One of the biggest brand-name authors in the romance book industry is Nicholas Sparks. He’s a superstar in the medium, with his most well-known hit being TheNotebook, and a good majority of his work ending up being produced into mainstream movies. The book I’ll be looking at today, The Longest Ride, is set in North Carolina, and it features a smokin’ hot guy, fiery love, and possible death.
Even with these seemingly exciting qualities, the story here is bland. I didn’t feel as though I developed a connection with the characters or really cared about their romance. If this is the first Nicholas Sparks book someone reads, then they might feel differently and actually like this story, but I felt like I was reading any one of his other books. The characters, plot, and even the writing are all similar to his previous work.
Hello, and welcome back to Sabrina’s Book Corner! This week we are going to be talking about Old Magic by Marianne Curley.
Kate Warren is the town freak, simply because her grandmother owns a new-age shop and believes in magic. Kate is often ridiculed and called a “witch” at school. But what her classmates don’t know is that Kate actually is a witch — and she’s proud of it.
Kate is surprised when a new kid arrives and shows the signs of being gifted. While Kate is observing the new kid, Jarrod, she notices two things: first, Jarrod doesn’t know he’s magical, and second, Jarrod is cursed. Kate feels a responsibility to help Jarrod, but when she tells Jarrod about his magic, he thinks she is either really weird or in need of help. Jarrod avoids Kate, ignoring her if they are in the same place, but when Jarrod’s little brother gets seriously hurt, Jarrod starts to believe Kate.
Hello readers, and welcome back to Sabrina’s Book Corner. This week we are going to be discussing Spelled by Betsy Schow.
Spelled, like so many recent books, is a new twist on an old tale. Everyone knows the story of Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz, but the Dorothy found in Spelled has never known Kansas. Schow takes the well-known story and twists it into something we’ve never seen before. This concept is very popular in the YA genre at the moment, and Schow weaves her magic (pun intended) extremely well in her retelling of The Wizard of Oz.
Dorthea (or Dot to her friends) has everything she wants out of life — except for the ability to leave home. Sure, being the Emerald Princess has its perks, including extravagant ball gowns made by Glenda, but along with the royal title comes the royal curse. The curse states that one day a girl from the Emerald line will turn evil and leave Emerald to burn. Dot might not be the cursed Emerald, but she’ll never leave the castle just to be on the safe side. However, this is a problem for Dot, because all she wants is freedom.
As I have said manytimesbefore on this blog, characters are the most important part of your novel, short story, or script. Characters will draw readers in and make them care about what’s going on in the story. Characters who are written well act as a connection point for readers. By caring about what happens to the fictional people you have created, your readers will care what happens in your story and want to keep reading. This means that creating believable characters and realistic scenarios for them to operate within is essential.
One of the best ways to make readers care about your characters is to show rather than tell. If you spend pages upon pages explaining a conflict between two characters or a romance that’s supposedly blossoming between two characters, it won’t have as much of an impact as you showing the conflict or romance between the characters.
In a recent LitReactor post entitled 6 Tips for Troubleshooting the Novel, columnist Susan DeFreitas talks about boiling down those important components into scenes. Susan says, “I’ve seen far too many novels in which a conflict between two characters is supposed to be a thing, but the novel never really shows these two conflicting….[this] could be most easily accomplished…in the course of this magic thing called a scene. Backstory too dense for narrative exposition? Contain it in a series of scenes. Need a relationship to be important? Establish it in a scene. Got a theme, running joke, memory, whatever, that’s supposed to be an important part of the story? Stop telling me about it. Put it in a scene.”
I absolutely love this advice and I think it’s something we could all stand to learn from. Too often, we get caught up in the overarching themes and plot lines of our stories, forgetting the smaller scenes that can all contribute to those larger elements. Plot lines and themes can be difficult to manage, and an easy way to break them up and make sure we’re covering all the story bases that we want to cover is to concentrate on scenes.
Basically, you should have your characters experience something rather than just telling your readers about it, or having one character explain something to another. If you’re writing the next super cool and amazing sci-fi thriller novel, you want to have some super cool and amazing scenes in there to make the story pop.
Suppose your story has a super scary Space Council at the center of it. You may really love the idea of this Space Council and spend a lot of time thinking about it, but never actually show it in your story. You may explain the “big, scary, imposing Space Council,” thinking that those words are enough to convey how important the Space Council is. But you could do a much better job of it by showing a meeting between the main character and the Space Council, or something horribly scary the Space Council has done. Rather than relying on those descriptive words, rely on your scenes that will illustrate what you want to get across to readers.