Guilty Secret, Revealed

This past Sunday, thanks to the end of Daylight Savings Time for this year, we all “gained” and extra hour.

leisure book

Good books improve our writing

I feel like what someone does with an extra hour of free time says a lot about the person.  So, what did I do with my free hour?  Considering my reputation as the “word girl” and reader of good books, I would like to say that I was rereading Pride and Prejudice.  However, the truth is I spent my extra hour reading a recently discovered Stuart Woods novel.  I thought I had read all of his books, until I found several unfamiliar titles at the library last week.

For those of you who don’t know Stuart Woods, he is a prolific writer of suspense novels.  He’s penned forty-four so far, with several more scheduled for publication in early 2014. Twenty-eight have been New York Times best sellers.  In my own defense, I must say that when I consume mental junk food, I go for quality.

Of course, as I read, I’m thinking about what makes these novels so irresistible.  When I pick up one, I’m literally driven to finish it.  I’ve got to know if Stone Barrington foils the bad guys lurking outside his office/mansion, if Holly Barker saves the day or if Lance Cabot is really a double agent.  What is this writer’s technique for drawing the reader in?

I find myself intrigued by how nuance in word choice makes such a difference in how we visualize what we are reading.  For example, in one scene, Woods describes Stone as “digging in” to a plate of pasta.  As I read this, I see someone holding their fork (or spoon) in their fist like a young child who is learning to feed himself.  Contrast this with the word picture created if Stone simply sits down to eat, or if an elegant waiter serves the meal.

Herein lies the secret of Woods attraction.  His writing is colorful and descriptive.  He pulls me along into the story.  If feel like I know the characters because he makes me see them.

It’s not that his characters are deep.  There is really no psychological development of them.  The plots are fast moving and the characters never engage in any sort of introspection.  I, as the reader, though, am trying to figure out what’s really going on.  I know that Woods main character is headed for trouble.  Somehow things are not as they appear on the surface, and I can’t stop reading until I find out the rest of the story.

To write well, we need to read good material.  For a marketing writer, Stuart Woods is actually a pretty good role model.  He is a master of keeping readers engaged and keeping them coming back for more. Of course, that’s we have to achieve in our blog posts, emails and other marketing writing we produce.

What do your favorite writers do that keeps you coming back?

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