Hey ~ V here. I just finished reading The Help. Okay, I’m a little late to the party on this one, but I LOVED this book. Not only was it a wonderful story that I couldn’t put down, but there were 4 things about this book that I loved from a Writer’s Perspective.
1 – Accents. So often, we hear not to write characters with accents, or not to write all their dialogue with the accent, that it’s annoying to the reader. I loved the accent the author wrote in for the Maids in this book, and at least 2/3 of the book was written in first person, from the Maid’s accented perspective.
2 – Non-Linear Story Structure. This story was told from 3 different points of view and it didn’t run in a straight timeline. It meandered around backward and forward in time, by small amounts, a few months here or there. But I liked that it kept you on your toes a little bit about what was happening when, without being completely unstructured like The Pilot’s Wife.
3 – Incorporated Real Events. The book is set in 1962-63 and takes place in Jackson, Mississippi. The events of the day play a small but important role in the motivation of the plot which gives a story with plenty of gravitas on its own, even more merit.
4 – It’s a fascinating and heart-rending fictionalized account of a real time and real struggle. I was born in 1970 and lived almost my entire childhood in Connecticut. I graduated from high school in 1988 and have always said there was a flaw in our high school American History classes.
We always started the year with colonialism, then got to the Revolution by Christmas. In January the teachers somehow realized that we were behind and would skip from writing the US Constitution to the Civil War. After February break, we’d skip from the Civil war to the Great Depression and WWII, then after April break, we’d be hopelessly behind and jump to current events. Even though the civil rights movement and the Vietnam war were not too many years behind us then, we only ever gave them a brief overview. Most of the details I know about the 1960’s and 1970’s come from books and movies. My own memories of the 1970’s mostly involve Shaun Cassidy and the Muppets, separately. I’m not sure Shaun was ever on the Muppet Show…but I digress.
The short time that I lived outside of CT in my childhood happened in 1971-1972 and my Yankee mother tells me that she remembers seeing “White’s Only” water fountain signs and the like in South Carolina where we lived, even then. I can’t imagine people buying into something so ridiculous to me, even thought, of course, I know it was part of everyday life for millions of people for a long time. Of course we have racism in Connecticut, both then and now, but it’s not quite so in your face as segregation. Frankly, I don’t think that’s a good thing, but again, I digress from today’s topic.
Today’s Secret: As Casey wrote a few weeks ago, in her blog about breaking the writing rules, when done well, breaking the rules can be very effective. This NY Times Bestseller and award-winning story (movie comes out later this month) is proof of that.
What books have you found inspiring? Do you break the common Writing Rules?