Just finished reading The Guardian by Nicolas Sparks and as promised, I have an opinion. I've not read a Nicolas Sparks novel beyond the first few pages. I've never seen one of the movies made from his novels. Everyone has forewarned me that I'll cry, so I decided to avoid it.
I started this novel on the recommendation of my daughter. She's a big fan of all his books, but said this one was different. It wasn't just a romance, but a suspenseful romance with a thriller edge. I had my doubts, but I trust my girl. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised. It was a good story, fast paced with short chapters. I like to read before I go to sleep, but found myself turning the lamp back on to finish just one more chapter.
As a writer, I scanned the pages while I read, gleaning writerly instruction from this popular author. One passage of description stood out.
"The engine of their squad car ticked as it cooled. A flock of starlings broke, chirping and squawking as they exploded from the trees. A squirrel raced past, seeking safety in the upper reaches of a pine tree. Nothing else, no other sounds. No sign of movement through the windows." page 381
Why this passage? Descriptive narrative is difficult to do without using weak verbs like was and were. The above passage doesn't use one. The verbs are powerful and paint a picture that includes sight and sound as well as the possible scent of that pine tree.
At the end of the novel, there's an Author's Note which I found inspirational as a not-quite-yet-published novelist. Nicolas Sparks states, "From first to final draft, the novel went through eight major revisions until my editor and I were finally satisfied that the novel accomplished what it set out to do; that is, be a love story first and foremost, and secondly--in a way that sneaks up on the reader--a compelling thriller."
Eight times for someone as seasoned as Nicolas Sparks. I don't feel half bad now.
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