“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”
“The instruction we find in books is like fire. We fetch it from our neighbors, kindle it at home, communicate it to others, and it becomes the property of all.”
Bravo, Cicero! Well said, Voltaire! I’ve surely taken their words to heart because just about every room in my house is awash in books. They are piled up by my armchair near my fireplace, lined up in my living room, and hold center stage in my pocket-sized office in antique banker’s bookcase where I keep cherished autographed copies and a handful of special editions.
My beloved sister Judy once said to me, “Karin, you think you can find everything in a book.” In a way, she was right: When I see the world through others’ eyes and hearts, I learn more about my own life and how I want to live it.
But books not only nourish heart as soul, as Voltaire pointed out, the instruction they give us is “like fire,” which we kindle in ourselves and then pass on. That’s how I think of my set of writing guides perched on a shelf outside my office, which I dip into for inspiration and ideas that I share with you n my posts.
And even now, as I write this, I am gazing at a small bookcase filled with classic stories that I’ve turned to for help in crafting my children’s novel. Each of them has taught me something valuable that I’ve used to enrich my story and make my characters come alive.
Pride and Prejudice by the peerless Jane Austen gave me a master class in plot development: After analyzing it, I revamped my novel’s structure. Anne of Green Gables helped me discover the qualities that make for an appealing and memorable young heroine. Then there’s one of my all-time favorites: The Secret Garden. Reading this 100+ year old classic several times taught me to trust my own intuition in believing that lyrical language can be a powerful world-building tool. It also showed me that even secondary characters in a story can be fully fleshed out and unique.
How about you? As you craft your short story, novel, film or play, are there authors that have helped light your way and taught you valuable writing lessons? If so, I’d love to hear about which books have fired your imagination. Write on!