Thursday, February 25, 2010


By Roberta C.M. DeCaprio

As a writer, I am a firm believer in reading other author’s books to help fine tune my own writing skills. When I read a novel I not only enjoy the author’s work and respect the time and talent it took to weave the story, but I also examine sentence structure, plot and sub-plot, the character’s point of view and the dialogue. I read all genres (authored by both men and women) and take what I learn in these areas to make my own writing skills improve. It’s an ongoing task, as none of us can know everything there is to know about any skill. When we think we do, we cease to learn and then to grow in our field.

Some of my own favorite authors are Diana Gabaldon, Karen Marie Moning, Nicholas Sparks, Dean Koontz, P.C. Cast, Stephanie Meyer, Julie Garwood, and Samantha James to name a few. Being surrounded by my own library, I wondered who and what the pioneer folks read by candlelight once the chores were done and the children bedded down for the night. Here are a few of the American authors and the novels I discovered:

Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804 – 1864), The Scarlet Letter and The House of Seven Gables.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807 – 1882), The Song of Hiawatha, The Courtship of Miles Standish and Paul Revere’s Ride.

Edgar Allen Poe (1809 – 1849), The Tell-Tale Heart and The Pit and the Pendulum.

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811 – 1896), Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

Herman Melville (1819 – 1891), Moby Dick.

Walt Whitman (1819 – 1892), Calvary Crossing a Ford.

Louisa May Alcott (1832 – 1888), Little Women

Samuel Clemmons/Mark Twain (1835 – 1910), The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and The Prince and the Pauper.

Washington Irving (1783 – 1859) Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

James Fenimore Cooper (1789 – 1851) The Last of the Mohigans and The Deerslayer.

L. Frank Baum (1856 – 1919) The Wizard of Oz.

They are amazing authors, but what is truly amazing is their stories are still read and enjoyed today. Their talent and creativity have spanned decades and many of them have had their story turned into a movie. I wonder what they'd have to say about that? Hmmm . . . not bad! Perhaps I should re-read and study these authors better myself, hopefully some of their success might rub off on me.


Rebecca said...

Thanks for pointing out some of the great old favorites. These books are also wonderful resources if you're writing about those times and want to learn more about how people lived.

Several years ago I read Richard Henry Dana's diary "Two Years Before the Mast" as background on old California and his descriptions were fabulous resource material.

Paty Jager said...

I agree the old books are a great way to get into the atmosphere of the times and really 'see' how they lived and behaved.

Take Laura Ingalls Wilder books. What a great way to learn about prairie living.

Tanya Hanson said...

Hi Roberta, I taught American Lit to high school juniors for my professional career, and most of your selections are very dear to me. The first time I read Little Women, I knew I wanted to be a writer. I was so happy to get to visit Louisa May Alcott's girlhood home in Concord MA (and her grave).

I totally garee with Rebecca about Dana and with Paty about Laura Ingalls. Great stuff!