Hello writers! Launching a new series today on the blog called #ThingsLearnedFromWritersThurs! Every Thursday, from now till the foreseeable future, we'll be sharing thoughts on what we've learned by reading the works of other writers.
There's so much to be learned by reading. Whether it's language style, worldbuilding, character development, or simply how authors craft a specific scene, each writer brings new techniques and ways of expressing concepts to the writing desk. Drawing inspiration from those already published can help us perfect our own novels.
Writing Pro Tip: A smart practice is picking out what another writer does well in their novels and bookmarking these sections to use as references when you're struggling to write your own scenes.
Image Credit: Sarah J. Maas's
professional author site. 6/17/21
Today we're starting our series with Throne of Glass writer Sarah J. Maas. Maas is a native born New Yorker who now resides in Pennsylvania with her husband and dog. She became a #1 New York Times bestselling author with the launch of her Throne of Glass series and soon became a USA Today and international bestselling author. Her second series, A Court of Thorns and Roses is equally as popular. To learn more about the author and her latest projects, visit her author website: https://sarahjmaas.com/.
If you're not otherwise familiar with her debut novel already, here is a quick synopsis courtesy of Amazon:
In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king's champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien.
The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass--and it's there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena's fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.
What Can We As Writers, Take Away From Her Novel?
An Updated Feminist Icon
Celaena Sardothien is a badass female main character. Iconic due to her tragic and noteworthy past, her deadly trade as an assassin, her notoriously cavalier approach to violence, and her vanity, she opens the door to a spectrum of female anti-heroes that previously were cast primarily in villainy. The contrast between her feminine interests and her bloodthirstiness creates a gray area where traditionally designated masculine traits meets a feminine backbone. She is a recasting of the Femme Fatale, a woman who is both terrifyingly beautiful as she is savage. Despite this, the complexities of her character don't leave her lacking in her ability to love and the longing to pursue a more domestic lifestyle.
An Assassin That Can Back Up Her Claims
Many writers struggle with writing battle or fight scenes. Unless you happen to be well-versed in violence, you'll probably find that this is a weak point in your own writing. If this is the case, you've only to open any of the seven novels in this series to find it full of colorful, well-researched examples to help break your writer's block. Maas is a genius when it comes to scripting fight scenes. You can see the amount of effort that she's put into each scene through her attention to detail. It's not all technical fight moves. She ties dialogue, sensory details, and setting elements together to weave realistic and attention-grabbing scenes without being overly graphic. Take her final duel between Celaena and Cain at the end of her novel for example, or her escape from the Ridderak in the catacombs below the Glass Palace.
Women Supporting Women
While there is a typical woman against woman trope in the novel, none of the cattiness lies between the dynamic gal pal duo Celaena and her princess best friend, Nehemia. One of the most notable things about their relationship is the complete lack of envy, backstabbing, and rivalry that is commonly attributed to female friendships in both film and literature. Presenting a united front, a caring bond, and genuine connection, the two friends are able to work out their differences even in light of ground-breaking secrets.
The backdrop for this series is S-T-U-N-N-I-N-G. Set in a fantasy kingdom characterized by a tyrant king, crumbling kingdoms, an uprising surrounding a would-be challenger, and a castle made of glass it's hard not to be swept away into this realm of magic and mystery. A highlight of Maas's writing style, her ability to craft a setting as detailed as what she presents here is a surefire example of what fantasy writers everywhere should be aspiring to accomplish. One has only to immerse themselves into the Fae world, to sympathize with the Ellywe rebels, and to be spell-bound by the re-emerging magic to understand how complex this world truly is.
A Realistic Love Triangle
Love is a wild, unpredictable creature. In this fresh take on a love triangle, Celaena finds herself torn between two equally alluring male love interests. Here this tired trope gets an update simply because Maas is careful to not shift Celaena's favor too much to one side or the other, a difficult, but much-needed feat. She keeps her readers guessing throughout the novel and each time you think she lands on a solid decision, devastation occurs. This reflection of reality is not only a breath of fresh air, but is also a captivating read.
Descriptive, Yet Succinct
Maas's writing is descriptive, yet not overly wordy. Her ability to use vivid imagery creates a visual painting in one's mind that adds to the overall fantastical atmosphere her work embodies. An example of this is when she compares a sunset to "a smear of tangerine".
Writing a Young Adult or Fantasy novel? Don't miss out on the chance to learn from this amazing author!
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Photo Disclaimer: I do not claim ownership of the image of the author or the cover of her book. These were borrowed from her official author website cited below. Accessed on 6/17/21.
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