Tuesday, July 17, 2012
New Guest Blogger at Nighthawk Fiction
Today I would like to present a post from a fellow fiction writer, Gina Marie Long, a writer of werewolf fiction. Please check out her Blog and webpages at the bottom of this post. It is a pleasure to have her insight!
A BAD READ: WRITING LESSONS LEARNED
It's happened to everyone at some point. We start reading a book and soon discover, something doesn't feel right. It sucks.
But do we stop reading the tripe or continue on…trudging our way through it, determined to finish it no matter what? At some point you realize, as you whisper to yourself, "I am on a quest. I'm going to get through this thing if it kills me."
So much for our initial unbridled excitement of reading a great story and losing ourselves to another world, devouring word after word, and getting to know characters that seem as real as your next door neighbor. Not.
I almost lost my mind. But I did read the whole thing.
No, I won't say who the author is or the name of the book. That's not nice. Especially since I felt this person is truly a friendly, well-meaning human being. However, the novel (or writer) did a fantastic job of throwing in my face so blatantly (yet not intentionally, of course) several writing lessons. The following is my list of what drove me bonkers while reading the book, and in turn, the mistakes I want to avoid when I write my own books:
1) Get to the point. Or at least tip me off that something exciting is about to happen. Create some suspense.
2) Why am I being told in great detail about food, driving, clothes, houses, non-essential characters…things I don't give a rat's ass about and that do not move the storyline forward at all. I will skim or skip reading these parts…looking ahead for the good stuff. And I encountered this throughout the entire book. Boring.
3) Before starting the book, I was given the impression the main character had "special" abilities or powers. Nope. No supernatural mojo related to him at all. Supernatural elements were in there, just not belonging to him. Did I not read the synopsis correctly?
4) The main character spent a large percentage of his time "away" from the main location in the book. (I don't want to say where he went because it gives a huge clue as to which book I'm referring to, just in case the actual author comes across this posting, and I'd rather the book stay anonymous to avoid hurt feelings. Just saying…) Anyway, I thought the chunk of time the main character stayed away from the central site was ridiculous and broke the flow of the story (not that it had a great flow to begin with). The main setting was a great place that the author could have kept the character there without removing him from the hotspot where all the action took place. As I read pages and pages with this character stuck in this "other place", I constantly kept thinking, "Get him out of the ____ and back to the ____!" Weird.
5) The book is part of a series. I did know that going in. I like reading series and write them myself. Each book in a series tends to wrap up a specific issue or problem that the story focuses on. Usually loose ends are tied-up but perhaps a deeper, overall aspect of the plot is unresolved, leaving a cliffhanger to draw the reader into the next book. But this book left the story completely hanging, dangling out there in no-man's land. Nothing was brought to a close. I finished the last paragraph and said, "That's it?! No way." It just stopped. No answers at all, which ticks off readers. We expect a cliffhanger in a series, but the author cannot walk away in the midst of the story without revealing some answers! I felt empty, confused and upset as I kept pressing my ereader button forward and backward, about five times, thinking a page had been accidentally left out.
6) And did I mention already I don't need to know every single item of food the characters are having for breakfast, lunch and supper?
I rarely have anything negative to say about books that I read because I usually enjoy everything. Sure, some are more exciting, some are duller. But it's unusual for me to skim through ¼ of the book, attempting to speed up the completion of it because it's frustrating and boring. To make a blog posting based entirely on the effect of one specific book should tell you something. For me, these were writing lessons learned, or perhaps mistakes I already knew to avoid but refreshed/reinforced in my mind.
So, am I going to buy the next book in this series to find out what happens next? No. I'm not into any further torture.
Feel free to connect with me! I don't bite. Really.
Gina Marie Long
Author of Young-Adult, Paranormal Thrillers, Urban Fantasy