A priceless, handcrafted rifle, fired throughout the American Revolution, is passed down through the years until it fires on a fateful Christmas Eve of 1994.
This was a cool, quick read, and here are a few writing lessons I learned from this book:
- Multi-published, award-winning authors can get away with what most of us can't. If a newbie writer wrote a manuscript that devoted several opening pages to how a gun was crafted, I wonder if it would make it past the gatekeepers. Just curious. My husband was fascinated by this part of the book, but I was tempted to skip it and get to the conflict.
- Consider a unique point of view. This book doesn't follow a specific human character. It follows the rifle from the time it was crafted during the Revolutionary War to 1994, when it's involved in a tragic accident. I thought that was a cool spin on point of view.
- Weave historical details into a story. I applaud historical fiction writers. We all know how much research is involved in these types of novels, and now more than ever I appreciate the way an author deftly adds historical nuggets without slowing down the story. It's a good reminder for me to add research details without making my manuscript feel like a textbook.
- The power of pacing. Without giving too much away, one of the final scenes involves the rifle being shot. The entire scene took two to three pages to describe in painstaking, anxious detail, but the actual time span of the event took less than 1.5 seconds. I held my breath during this scene, which is usually a good indicator that the author did a nice job of pacing.
I'm glad I read this book, knowing it's another opportunity to discuss this subject with our sons. Plus I thought it ended up being an interesting read.
Have you or your kids read this book? If so, what was your opinion? And if you're a teacher, do you assign this book to your students?