Wednesday, June 27, 2012

HUGE Thumbs Down....

Writers are voracious readers.  If they're not, they should be.  I started a new audiobook today that I couldn't wait to get my hands on.  The description sounded SO good.  Much like a movie that's over-hyped and winds up disappointing you, so does this book.

Most readers can tell whether or not they're going to like a book fairly quickly, and I'm no exception.  I can usually tell within 5 minutes.  This book is awful!  I gave myself until the end of the first full disc (out of 6), and I'm still slogging through it.  Don't ask me why, as half of Amazon's reviews warn readers not to waste their time.

Hey, everyone has their own taste in literature, and I don't begrudge them that.  What worries and maddens me is the fact that it got published when it clearly makes all the mistakes we're told NOT to make...

- Characters nobody can or want to relate to
- SHOW rather than TELL (one of the cardinal rules-this is nothing BUT show)
- Avoid not grabbing the reader as soon as possible

Snippets of some reviews go as follows
-"If this is really what modern experimental fiction is about, you can keep it. I found it boring beyond measure after my patience wore out at around page 75-100, and irritated for the rest of the book because the author just went further and further afield satisfying none of the mystery that was the original setup. The final pages of the book looked like there was going to be a token payoff, a central question answered, but .... No. Nothing."
-"Think about every bad characteristic of overly workshopped MFA manuscripts: "quirky" characters that don't remotely resemble human beings; ambiguity milked to an obscene degree; ridiculously tedious detail; and prose so affected and sterile that you are perpetually in a state of eye-roll. All of these are present and accounted for"

So, I say with a huge sigh, how are those of us who are trying desperately to follow every 'do' and 'don't' have a chance in hell of succeeding when things like THIS drivel grace the bookshelves?  I'm not sure if it's comforting or utterly discouraging. 


  1. Follow your own sense of how your story should unfold. What would grab your attention and make you want to hurry back to the book. But, what do I know, the closest to writing I get is sending emails to my grandchildren.

  2. Don't follow every do and don't. You'll get way too discouraged and drive yourself crazy. If you look at the dos and don'ts as guidelines to pick and choose from, you'll be way better off. There are some that are chisled in stone (like formatting) but the rest, go with your instincts. Not everyone will like what you write; that's perfectly okay. But there will be plenty who do.

    1. LOL Deb. Thank you guys! Habisha, you're right, I'm trying so hard to follow every note I've been given "any editor will tell you this is wrong," so I go back and start changing. I've been doing this for months, then BAM, I come along with this book, and it blows all that out of the water. It's just discouraging

  3. Habisha is right--once you've learned the rules, you can creatively break them. Even the "show, don't tell" rule has exceptions. Study the craft, write your story, and try, try, try not to get discouraged. You'll make it.

    I read through a few pages of a couple of Amelia Gray's books on Amazon, and she writes "experimental fiction." Though I couldn't find anything wrong with her writing style, I'm not a fan of the genre. And apparently, neither are you! :D

  4. Linda, what the heck IS experimental fiction? lol

  5. I'm thankful I don't have to "keep up" with fiction because it takes so much time, but the same thing happens in poetry. There's so much out there and some of it is bad, some strange, some incomprehensible. I cope by separating - I read more when I'm doing more revising than creating, then try to put the comparisons out of my mind when I'm beginning new work.