What I’ve Learned from Cornelia Funke – Writing Methods from “Inkheart”

For several years, I was completely opposed to buying books. Why spend money to read a book when you can just borrow one from a library or friend? I remained in this mindset until a friend of mine suggested that I read Inkheart, by Cornelia Funke. It was the first book I ever willingly spent money on (about $20) and its contents immediately inspired within me a passion for book collecting.

There are many reasons to invest in books you can keep at home. One good reason is to support deserving authors out there (I certainly would appreciate people spending money on my books to come–wink, wink; nudge, nudge), but my primary reason for collecting is to have models of good writing technique available for reference.

Inkheart is anything but lacking in this area. I find myself often turning back through the book to remember how Funke handled her writing in different circumstances. The one technique that stood out most during my reading was her ability to develop significant dramatic conflict between her characters by contrasting their traits with the others. (Warning: The following paragraphs may contain spoilers.)

Take for example, the backgrounds and abilities of these characters. Meggie grows up in a home in which books are loved and cared for. Her father, Mortimer, can make characters in books come alive. This power lies in his voice when he reads aloud. On the other hand, his wife, we find, is mute and can communicate only through writing. In contrast, Dustfinger cannot read. He is a character who fears and loathes the book of which he is a part, created by the author Fenoglio. Eleanor, Mortimer’s aunt, is an avid book collector, whereas many of the villains in Inkheart are out to destroy valuable books.

So you see, differences in characters such as these can complement traits of other characters, and also emphasize important subjects and themes in writing. The only thing I didn’t like about Inkheart was that it was at times rather slow moving, but the methods I learned from reading this story far outnumber the drawbacks of the book. If you haven’t read it yet, I encourage you to do so. It’s a beautiful edition to have on your shelf and will continue to benefit you long after the first read.

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