Monday, October 12, 2009

Mentor Monday: Where Are You?

There are many reasons we keep reading a book. We identify with the characters, we love a particular author’s style, we enjoy a certain genre. One other way an author keeps his reader turning the page is by giving the reader a real sense of place. A setting can be nearly as entrancing as the plot. Harry Potter lovers will understand what I mean. How difficult has it been to leave Hogwarts? Here are some other bewitching (pun intended) examples:

“Once upon a time, sixty years ago, a little girl lived in the Big Woods of Wisconsin, in a little gray house made of logs.
The great, dark trees of the Big Woods stood all around the house, and beyond them were other trees and beyond them were more trees. As far as a man could go to the north in a day, or a week, or a whole month, there was nothing but woods. There were no houses. There were no roads. There were no people. There were only trees and the wild animals who had their homes among them.”
Laura Ingalls Wilder

“If, instead of a pencil, I held a brush in my hand, I would paint the scene: the scene of Autumn Street…and Grandfather’s house would loom huge, out of proportion, awesome and austere, with the clipped lawn as smooth and green as patchwork pockets on a velvet skirt. The rough pink brick of the sidewalk, bordered by elms, would wind the length of the street, past the Hoffman’s house, past the bright forsythia bushes that grew around the great-aunts’ front porch, past the homes of strangers and friends and forgotten people, finally disappearing where the woods began.
…I would blur the woods. I would blur them with a murky mixture of brown and green and black, the hueless shade that I know from my dreams to be the color of pain.”
Lois Lowry

“In my father’s study there was a large globe with all the countries of the world running around it. I could put my finger on the exact spot where I was and had been ever since I’d been born. And I was on the wrong side of the globe, I was in China in a city named Hankow, a dot on a crooked line that seemed to break the country right in two. The line was really the Yangtse River, but who would know by looking at a map what the Yangstse River really was?
“Orange-brown, muddy mustard-colored. And wide, wide, wide. With a river smell that was old and came all the way from the bottom. Sometimes old women knelt on the riverbank, begging the River God to return a son or grandson who may have drowned. …but I knew who busy the River God must be. All those people on the Yangtse River! Coolies hauling water. Women washing clothes. Houseboats swarming with old people and young, chickens and pigs. Big crooked-sailed junks with eyes painted on their prows so they could see where they were going…”
Jean Fritz

So, where are you? Do you know where your story’s going? Are you taking your reader along?


I'm Jet . . . said...

Great choice of excerpts, Muriel! I'd never read the Fritz piece before.


Barbara said...

Beautiful choices, Mur! I'm going out tomorrow and buying Homesick!

Anonymous said...

I read Homesick My Own Story and I thought it was very good. I am glad I picked a fantastick book to do my Pop Up Book project in school. I bet all those people out there that read this book fell in love with it the very second chapter of the book!!!!