A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Another classic that I just never got around to reading before.
And it’s deservedly a classic. Dickens absolutely skewers the ruling classes of three societies: his native England, pre-Revolutionary France, and the post-Revolutionary Terror. The snarky political commentary makes his dips into melodrama excusable.
Three things I learned about writing:
- You can write in the third-person POV without insight into any characters' thoughts or feelings at all, only their actions and words.
- Admitting that there is a narrator telling the story (while standing outside of it) gives you a chance to comment on the action, not just tell it.
- Even if readers can anticipate a turn in the story, if the characters don't know it's on its way, you can generate tension just in putting off the moment that that event happens.