Saturday, June 7, 2014

All the pieces

Writer’s should read and perhaps the most compelling reason is that reading good writing reminds us of what we aspire to. 

There are a few authors whom I want to write like. On is Matt Kirby after reading Icefall.  Gary Schmitt’s Doug character pulled me into Okay For Now. MG author Tom Angleberger impressed me the way he saved the final resolution of The Strange Case of the Origami Yoda until the last page. And John Green is John Green. Who wouldn’t want to write like him? 

Add to that list Carol Lynch Williams.

Carol is an amazing writer. I just finished The Chosen One for the second time and once again was blown away. Ann Cannon has assigned reading The Chosen One as part of our WIFYR workshop. I checked it out online through Overdrive and received both the audio version and an epub format.

There are number of elements key to a good book. These include compelling characters, dramatic events, believable settings, and a strong writers’s voice. Carol not only applies them, but squeezes the most from each. 

She draws you in immediately with her first line, “If I was going to kill the prophet,” I say, not even keeping my voice low, “I’d do it in Africa.” Thus begins the story of a 13-year old polygamous girl chosen to marry her 60-year old uncle. 

Most of us Utahans may have encountered polygamists on the street and peered curiously at them. Carol takes us inside an isolated polygamous community where we accept as normal the three wives of Kyra’s father. Carol enriches her setting with scorching heat, red desert dust, and Russian olive trees.

The Chosen One is character driven and Kyra is a compelling MC. She unquestioningly accepts the lifestyle yet does not fit the mold they have cast for her. Books have been banned as the devil’s words, yet she has a yearning to read. Kyra has an interest in a boy and wants to choose him to marry rather that have the prophet dictate who her husband is to be. 

Besides her incredible voice, a technique Carol employees masterfully, is the way she raises the stakes for Kyra. This poor girl not only must deal with her sins against the rules of the community and the approaching marriage to the uncle she despises, but faces other traumas. Carol perpetually ratchets the tension until resolving the story nicely.

Carol’s an amazing writer. She also puts on a great writing conference, coming up later this month. (Classes still open, more info here.)

(This article also posted at

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