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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

It's CSFF Blog Tour Day Two/Three: Karen Hancock's Return of The Guardian King

Read this excerpt from
Karen Hancock's
Return of the Guardian King

(Click on the page for larger size)

I know, I'm a little behind the time, but I'm celebrating Day 2 and Day 3 of the CSFF Blog Tour Today! My focus for day two is the Written Craft. Karen writes beautifully. It's no wonder she's won four Christy Awards ( a fifth on the way?). Her vocabulary is not just huge, but accurate and evocative. Her sentences are fluid. Her verbs active and driving. As an author myself, I read Karen's work, and it inspires me to learn more about the craft.

Several things strike me about this all-important opening page of the novel. First, note the use of italics. This tells the reader there's something different about this text. Either it's someone's thoughts, a supernatural voice, or a memory. Or, as Karen uses it, it shows us Maddie's song.

Then, notice the phrase bell-toned voice, sunlight, open meadow, yellow butterfly, patch of rippling grass, bloom-laden stalks, etc. Gorgeous, lyrical writing to be sure, but it's also very purposeful. Karen's setting you up by building mood through word choice. I mean how serene and comfortable would this scene be? You feel like you want to leap into the book and sprawl onto your back in the tall grass. But then, WHAM!! Karen just hits you with a 2 X 4. Look at the words on the next page.

(Click on the page for larger size)

Look at how the vocabulary changes to words that not only describe but evoke negative, uncomfortable feelings. Cold, misery, screamed, pelting, slivers, snow-caked, dangling, frozen, numb, squinted, shuddering, etc. For the writers who visit Enter the Door Within, take note of Karen's expertise. Every word counts. Eliminate vague or overused descriptors and use precise language that carves not only an image into the reader's mind, but also an emotion. You touch the emotions, the heart, the soul of your readers, and they will read you forever.

If this first segment was enough to hook you, you can buy Karen's book by clicking the link below. I've also listed the first three books in Karen's awesome series.

*All excerpts of text are from Return of the Guardian King by Karen Hancock, Bethany House Publishing, 2007, used by permission.


Pixy said...

Great post, Wayne. Description is definitely Karen's strong suit. She's a master at painting with words.

chrisd said...

Great post, Wayne. You have made me understand why I enjoy her writing!

Eve said...

Thanks for highlighting Karen's great writing-the poor girl has endured a bit of critisism during this tour.

PatShand said...

Two good pages, though I thought they were a bit over-written. The language was vivid and beautiful indeed, but I feel it may have been asking a bit too much from the reader. So much description this early in the book may discourage someone. I was also a bit thrown off by the redundancy of "very definitely" in page one. Wouldn't "definitely" be enough. Not to like rip it apart, I did think it was well-written. I just had to drop in my two cents.

WayneThomasBatson said...

Eve, I barked about the cover, but has there been more criticism about the actual story? I hope not. I mean, to a certain degree, there are things that could be better about every book. But RotGK is pretty dang excellent.

And, Pat, I'd agree with your point if this was Book 1 of the series. But as book 4, I don't think the language is asking too much. At this point, readers are already on board. And for me, I've not read the first 3, and I was totally hooked. I loved the description and was drawn in…of course, only to have Karen flip me on my head. LOL

chrisd said...

Thanks for coming by.

Me having an insight.

ROFL!!!! (gasping for air, holding side)

Rebecca said...

Good work! Karen's books are so evocative.

Ok, at the risk of getting hit over the head with a 2 X 4, I know a fair number of people who don't read fantasy. Rather, they *can't* read fantasy.

Fantasy takes a certain rigorousness of mind, and some folk just lack that, or choose not to exercise any muscle but the page-flipper while reading. Hence the existence of so many genres - something for everyone.

(Do I need to duck? Is anyone swinging anything at me?)

WayneThomasBatson said...

WHAT?!! {he raises warhammer} What do you mean some don't like fantasy?! JK

I know our beloved genre isn't for everyone. Some people stumble over anything that lacks concrete reality.

But…I think people can be converted! ;-)

Eve said...

Yup, it's true. Karen's book has got a fair bit of crit. Everything from spelling errors to women's roles in her books.

I think it merely boils down to "If I were writing a book, this is not the way I'd write it"-but they didn't :)

Non-fantasy readers-my hubby. He has no idea why it so thrills me. He thinks that it is slightly mental, lol.

Brett said...

He's right, Lady Eve! We fantasy-writers are very mental! We think a lot. ;-)

Brett said...

Wait.....same Eve?


Christopher Hopper said...

great post, wayne. only sorry I wasn't able to post during this tour. but her book did ride with me across the ocean and back last week! love her work... -CH

Amy Browning said...

If I must be considered mental - than woo-hoo for the crazy creative people!

I think that we must be a bit off to come up with the imaginative worlds we create. How many people outside our genre really think the way we do? Very few, I think.

At least there are even more people who enjoy reading fantasy, than just those who write it.

My husband is an artist, not by profession, but still, he sculpts, draws, paints, etc. Given this knowledge, you'd think he'd totally understand my love for fantasy. I won't say he doesn't see why I love it, he just can't get as excited about it all, like I do. He thinks it's funny actually - in a really supportive, "okay sweetie, I'm behind you 100% if this is what you're into," - kind of way. LOL!

Eve said...

Amy, my hubby draws architectural stuff-very artistic too. Go figure, these men of ours *grin*

Eve said...

Yup...Lady Eve (of previous posting) is me. Wayne coined the phrase :)

Brett said...

Oh! Cause I didn't your pic. Me was confused..... :)

Sarmjornn said...

Alas that I must say that I was among the number that could not see. I didn't know what Tolkien and Lewis held between the covers of their books.
Since I've read and watched the movies I have become a fantasy fanatic. I am so glad or I wouldn't have read of The Realm.

Eve said...

Brett, I was just too lazy to sign in :)