Writing Style

Melina and HD are 12 and 13 year old book bloggers that love books. Texans at heart and readers at mind, they love gushing about books and finding new read. Melina’s favorite reads at the moment include Fracture by Megan Miranda and The Gone Novels by Michael Grant. HD is currently obsessing over Fracture as well, and long since fell in love with The Gone Novels.

HD on Writing Style: How it can make or break a book for him!

When I read books, I always look at writing style. It’s my favorite thing about books, and for me it can make a book or break a book. Loose, boring writing style makes a book slightly lukewarm. It doesn’t capture my attention, and a lot of the time it makes a character implausible and extremely two dimensional. There’s a certain point where a writing style matters the most. And a lot of the times, without the writing style, the book would be really boring and nothing special.

So, I’ll be sharing a few quotes from some of my favorite YA novels and explain what they did to make something so mundane or normal become something emotional and…different. Unique, somehow.

First off is the inevitable. I must quote Shatter Me. I must, I must, I must.

“Killing time isn’t as difficult as it sounds.
I can shoot a hundred numbers through the chest and watch them bleed decimal points in the palm of my hand. I can rip the numbers off a clock and watch the hour hands tick tick tick their final tock just before I fall asleep. I can suffocate seconds just by holding my breath. I’ve been murdering minutes for hours and no one seems to mind.”

–       Tahereh Mafi, Shatter Me

Basically, Juliet is killing time. That’s all she’s doing in this passage. This paragraph that is taut and almost emotional is just Juliet’s crazy, messed up mind explaining how she kills times. The meaning is so double and ambiguous it’s chilling and unbelievable. I’m reeling just reading it because, the way it’s all structured and the way Juliet speaks and how her train of thought is completely there is just…wow.

“I spent my life folded between the pages of books.
In the absence of human relationships I formed bonds with paper characters. I lived love and loss through stories threaded in history; I experienced adolescence by association. My world is one interwoven web of words, stringing limb to limb, bone to sinew, thoughts and images all together. I am a being comprised of letters, a character created by sentences, a figment of imagination formed through fiction.”

–       Tahereh Mafi, Shatter Me

Basically, Juliet is saying she’s lonely, and her life is books. That’s it, that’s all she could have said. Tahereh only had to write that and go on with the story. But, no, she was brave, and look what she wrote. It’s so poignant and graceful and perfectly worded it’s almost unbelievable.

“He reaches towards her, his fingers black and bloody, his eyes deranged, unblinking. Janie is paralyzed. His cold hands reach around her neck, squeezing tight, tighter, until Janie has no breath left. She’s unable to move, unable to think. As his grasp tightens further around Janie’s neck, his face turns a sickly alabaster. He strains harder and begins to shake.
Janie is dying.
She has no fight left in her.
It’s over.”

–       Lisa McMann, Gone

I’m in love with  Lisa McMann’s writing style. It’s my favorite ever (besides Ms. Mafi’s!) because of the atmospheric way she writes. It’s engrossing and creepy and chilling. It grabs you by the neck and leaves goosebumps on your arms! This is from the back of Gone, and I haven’t read the series of Wake, Fade, and Gone because I hear they’re extremely mature, but the moment I feel mature enough I’m buying every book in the series! This passage is eerie, thrilling, and the way it’s written is just…WOW!

“I am the kid who sticks her finger in the light socket. I am the person who doesn’t check the expiration date on the milk. I am the idiot who has never looked before she leaped. I am the girl who is falling apart, right now.”

–       Amy Garvey, Cold Kiss

“It wasn’t love right away, because nothing ever is no matter what the songs say, but it was the start of it. A beginning in one way, and the end in another. I think that might always be true of love.”

–       Amy Garvey, Cold Kiss

Amy Garvey is the most…intelligent author. Wren, the main character of Cold Kiss, is probably my favorite protagonist ever, am I right? I read Cold Kiss on a whim, not expecting much due to the lukewarm reviews it had received on Goodreads, and was sucked in. The two quotes above, pulled from Cold Kiss, are both just so true and meaningful.

The first quote is just a simple way of saying that Wren was never one to fit in or go by the rules. But when I was reading Cold Kiss and found that line nestled into the story, my heart sang a little. The words were so marvelously used and so little fluff was there. It was raw yet not raw. Perfect yet slightly angled differently.

The second quote is a quote that probably no girl YA character lives by anymore. Ever since Twilight came around insta-love has been ever present and infecting every book. Stalker boys and two dimensional rag doll girls are the status quo usually, but when I opened Cold Kiss and found that, could I say it was my favorite line of the year? So short yet holding so many emotions. It was…perfect.

Writing style: it can make a book or break a book. Good plot and good idea plus bad writing style and terrible prose equals…trainwreck. If you don’t have the writing style you can’t fleshout your characters or enhance your plot of engross the reader. I need a book that has such an amazing prose it sends goosebumps up my arms or shivers down my spine. A book that will keep the light on into the night.

Melina on Writing Style: Sticks with her long after turning the last page!

After I finish a book, the thing that sticks with me the most is the writing style.  Long after I have forgotten the names of the characters and the details of the setting, I find the author’s words following me.  The author’s voice, the way they craft the words, the way it all comes together.  THAT is what I remember.

Let’s do this.

My turn to quote Shatter Me!

 “I always wonder about raindrops.
I wonder how they’re always falling down, tripping over their feet, breaking their legs and forgetting their parachutes as they tumble out of the sky toward an uncertain end. It’s like someone is emptying their pockets over the earth and doesn’t seem to care where the contents fall, doesn’t seem to care that the raindrops burst when they hit the ground, that they shatter when they fall to the floor, that people curse the days the drops dare to tap on their doors.
I am a raindrop.”

–       Tahereh Mafi, Shatter Me

In the very last sentence, Juliet simply states that she is a raindrop.  Ah, but Tahereh’s magic lies in the earlier paragraph.  As she describes the insignificant raindrops that no one gives a care for, she is describing how Juliet pictures herself.  Raindrops rupturing on the ground, just as Juliet’s mind is breaking into a zillion pieces.  This is an image that lingers.

When it is over, we breathe and ache like old oak, like peeling birch. One of Our lost souls set free. We move, a chess piece in a dark room, cast-iron legs moving a centimeter at a time, crying out in silent carved graffiti. Calling to Our next victim, Our next savior. We carve on Our face:

Touch me.
Save my soul.

–       Lisa McMann, Cryer’s Cross

Lisa McMann’s writing style uses very few words to bring the scary.

Did you see what I did there?  I used Lisa’s trick, only it doesn’t work as well for me.  She has this way of writing that puts her reader on edge.  Just look at that passage!  She is describing a desk being moved around a classroom from the POV of the presence within that desk.  Creep to the tastic!  But she does it with sparse words.

“So I kissed you.
No, I kissed you, Hannah.
A long and beautiful kiss.
And what did you say when we came up for air?  With the cutest, littlest, boyish smirk, you asked, “What was that for?”
Right, you kissed me.
To which I said, “You’re such an idiot.” And we kissed some more.
An idiot.  Yes, I remember that, too.”

–       Jay Asher, Thirteen Reasons Why

 “You can’t stop the future
You can’t rewind the past
The only way to learn the secret
…is to press play.”

–       Jay Asher, Thirteen Reasons Why

Thirteen Reasons Why left me speechless and I had to take a step back to examine how what I say and do to others affects them.  The reason I came away from this book so jarred, had little to do with Hannah making tapes for her friends so they would understand her suicide.  No, the reason was the writing style. Let me explain.

In the first quote, Clay has a conversation in his mind as he listens to Hannah’s recorded voice.  The tone is so real, so matter-of-fact….so alive.  The way Jay brings this conversational tone into the story, makes Hannah present.  And that left me stunned, because Hannah lived on in those tapes.

The second quote is just pure epic.  Hannah uses stop, rewind, and play to talk about the tape recorder.  But, she is also describing life and death.  This little gem, tucked in with the rest of Hannah’s conversation, is a deal-breaker.  This book was going to make an impact on my life.

A unique writing style will make the ordinary memorable.  No matter how fabulous a plot may be, the way the authors brings it to the page will make the difference between a so-so book and a truly inspiring book.  Remember how I said I liked books that follow me.  Writing style makes that happen.

Discussion time!

What is your verdict on writing style?

Give me quotes from books that have amazing prose!

Agree, disagree, but do NOT be mean!


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