While, I was preparing to write At All Cost. I was drawn to reading Grace Livingston Hill’s romance novels. The key to GLH novels is that she never introduces a bevy of characters in the first few chapters. When she adds a new character, she makes sure they have a purpose.
In Ariel Custer, I was intrigued by a particular secondary character of Emily Dillon, who is considered old at forty-two years old. Hill does add Emily to the later chapters, with a brief description. My character descriptions in my own novels would last forever.
Also, I noted her chapters are succinct and short. She doesn’t include subplots that don’t help the story to move along. You can tell she has taken many years to perfect her chapters. Her chapters are great for those who have a short attention span. It’s amazing how I can read the first chapter of any other novel, and then I can determine if it will put me in a deep sleep.
Besides her character descriptions, she does well with description of a particular place. She picks out three objects of the room, to help the reader get a grasp of the room. In Ariel Custer, Hill focuses on three important pieces of the setting: a wide hearth of a field stone, fireplace, deep cushiony couches. A romance novelist, Rebecca Vineyard explains the importance finding several things for the reader to have a sense of place.
So, what I learned from Ariel Custer is that I need to have short chapters, great descriptions, and a great sense of place.
I did use Grace Livingston Hill books for my senior paper at Oral Roberts University.
Grace Livingston Hill
J.B Lippincott © 1925