1. Magnatolia
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    Magnatolia Active Member

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    Best detailed analysis of a book?

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by Magnatolia, Jan 29, 2015.

    Hi all,

    I find that I really learn by seeing how a book is written. Whether it's the author breaking down individual pieces or someone else. For example I love Randy Ingermanson's add-ons to some of his books where he goes into detail on the character synopsis, or where he points out that they used the sentence 'Bob Kaganovski had shampoo in his eyes when the decompression alarm went off' to show subtly that Bob was more preoccupied with the shampoo in his eyes than the alarm going off. For example they could have written 'The decompression alarm filled his ears as he hosed the shampoo from his face and eyes.'

    He even points out things they would have done differently. As an example this is a sci-fi book and he wanted to make the first paragraph huge so he added a viper bat. When I read the first paragraph it didn't stick out to me as a problem but after reading his after thoughts it made a lot more sense. She was being attacked by a viper bat but it was just a dream which means either A) It's foreshadowing something to come, or B) it should have just been a creature.

    Literally they break down the first two scenes almost sentence by sentence and analysed what the purpose of the sentence was and occasionally what they would do differently now. For example he had a sentence 'She could already feel its venom burning into her lungs' and said that because they were already in her POV it could have been 'It's venon burned into her lungs'.

    I also like how some people break down existing plots into manaeagable chunks so we can see the story unfold piece by piece. Randy does this with four novels as part of his Snowflake Method software but I don't see the value in buying the software. If you know the method you can easily apply it to any outlining software. But I'd love to see some more of these types of examples.

    Does anyone know of any good books that provide this kind of analysis? Often I read something great and I really want to know what was going through the authors head.

    Often times writing books give an occasional example, but what is great is the ones that take an excerpt from an existing book, explain why, maybe even show a bad way of writing that same scene so I can see the full picture.

    I'm off to trawl Amazon's suggested books based on Randy's book in the hope of finding some more gems :)

    Thanks heaps!
     
  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Maybe not exactly what you are looking for but I learned a lot from Sparknotes Literature Study Guides. They don't have all the books I wanted to read about but they have a number of classics.
     
  3. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    If you're into classic literature, check out Nabokov's lectures. They come in book form and can be found on Amazon. He has some really great insights.
     
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  4. Megalith
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    Megalith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Two Yale courses on Blood Meridian that you can get off of Youtube. Here is the first one. I would recommend reading the book first though.

     
  5. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Something's wrong with your link. Here it is again:
    www.youtube.com/watch?v=FgyZ4ia25gg
     
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  6. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    That sounds pretty interesting. I think you can get some valuable insights just by reading Lolita or Pale Fire. Does he get into his own work in the lectures, or is he speaking in more general terms?
     
  7. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    As far as I know, he never lectured on his own works. There is, however, a short clip of him talking about Lolita.
     
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  8. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Thanks @thirdwind. That was interesting. I'll have to think about this comments with respect to touching minds and emotion.
     
  9. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Are you looking for author insights into their own books, or just overviews of books written by other people discussing an author's style?

    Personally, I LOVE reading author's insights into their own writing. They give you their thought processes as they either wrote or (more likely) edited and revised. Overviews written by others are interesting too, but maybe more so to the reader than the writer. Outsiders can only guess—as can we—at what the author 'meant.' The author KNOWS what the author meant, and can tell you how he or she made it work.

    I'll give this some thought and see if I can resurrect some examples. I know I've got a few lurking about.

    For starters, Joe Abercrombie's blog is particularly prolific and insightful. I put 'insight' into the search box on his blog, and came up with lots. Here's a good one, that deals with planning and using the subconscious...

    http://www.joeabercrombie.com/2013/12/26/everyone-has-a-plan-until-theyre-punched-in-the-face/
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2015
  10. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    If you're looking for writers talking about their own works, maybe reading their diaries/journals is a good place to start. I have the diaries of Kafka, and after reading them, I look at his work in a very different way than before.
     
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  11. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Norton Critical editions are fantastic if you are interested in classic literature. I've had one or two of them over the years, and the wealth of extra material they provide make paying the extra few pounds more than worth it.

    The Norton Critical edition of Kafka's 'Metamorphosis' is a book I bought, loved, and then sold to someone because they were doing a paper on him. I've been kicking myself ever since, it included Kafka's diary entries around the writing of the story too.
     
  12. Hwaigon
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    Hwaigon Contributing Member Reviewer

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    You hit the mark. Sparknotes Study Guides are wonderful. They are sometimes better than literature textbooks. I love the context
    sections for the literary work. I helped a lot to understand some works of fiction.
     
  13. CedricMiddorick
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    CedricMiddorick Member

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    The closest thing I've read that acts as an authors own analysis is Pottermore. That said, Stephen King's On Writing and Anne Rice's YouTube channel give good insight into their thought process.
     
  14. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    If you have a good library in your area search authors as the subject and head to that section. In my library there are quite a few books that aren't bios, they're books of people taking apart an authors work. You can also look to the literary/literature studies section and find the same thing but more by genre or as a collective of select authors - someone discussing classic themes from a certain period in literature or sci-fi. There is also a great site called Open Library - https://openlibrary.org/ - where you can borrow books and read them on your computer. By searching the authors you might find something good.

    If you want to see what authors think of their own work, you can read diaries and letters, or you can also check out the Paris Review Interviews -http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews They have some really great ones.
     
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  15. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    The Robert Frost one is fascinating!
     
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  16. Magnatolia
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    Magnatolia Active Member

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    Thanks guys for the replies. @jannert yes I am more interested in authors insights into their own books in the sense of fiction writing advice.
     
  17. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    OMG. I just read the first interview with Aharon Appelfeld. I'm stunned. I'm away to see if I can get one of his books.
     
  18. Poet of Gore
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    Poet of Gore Member

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    google: shmoop hauting of hill house
     

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