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Showing posts with the label bad writing

Writing, My Precious

We sometimes hear writing described as precious , which, according to one definition I found, is some combination of 1. self-absorbed – the author inserting his own personality too much in the narration. 2. autobiographical – the story is about something that changed the author’s life, turned into fiction. 3. trying too hard to make the text sound nice/pretty 4. trying too hard to effect a style Last night I dumped a book after about 20 pages for reasons I can't pinpoint except to call the writing precious . I felt like the author was standing at my shoulder, asking, "Didn't I describe that character completely? Isn't she stunningly beautiful?" Every character was described in great detail before he/she ever said a word. In addition, they might just as well have worn signs that said, "LIKE ME" or "DON'T LIKE ME." The "good" characters were perfectly beautiful or incredibly handsome, and the "bad" characters had bea

Picky, Picky, Picky!

As a kid I was known as a picky eater. Basically, if my mother didn't make it, I was suspicious, and my aunts learned to keep a jar of peanut butter around. That I'd always eat. Today, I'm less picky about food, but as a consumer of entertainment, I'm still picky. I know that sometimes that comes off as sour grapes or the I-could-do-it-better attitude. That might be true. I need some sort of logic in my comedy. Anything billed as "zany" or "madcap" is liable to go unread/watched. There are ways to do zany well--Mel Brooks comes to mind--but most of the time I get tired of silliness portrayed as comedic genius. I don't like those people. They need to grow up. I need plot authenticity in my dramas too. A few nights ago we watched a movie (It was too hot to do anything else!) and though I kept my comments to myself, here are a few logical flaws I noticed. *The millionaire bad guy had dozens of minions willing to obey his every command. So...he

Wanna-be Writers: Here's the Scoop

Oooooh, So Serious! The right way to get published? There isn't one! That's really all you need to know, but of course I'm not done. There are wrong ways , which include being in too much of a hurry and believing that your book is somehow different from the 3500 other books released each day. (Yup, I just read that figure, and while I didn't check it on Snopes, I'd say it's close with the current ease of publishing.) Still, a lot of what's out there as advice for writers is just silly . Statistics about how many words you write per day don't mean diddly. We're all different, so we work differently. Articles that insist you must maintain a blog or dun your friends and acquaintances with emails each and every month are dumb. Ask yourself who's giving the advice: a company that wants to be your email provider? An author who thinks she's the only person who ever wrote a book? A company that wants to make money from your hopes and dream

Here's What I Don't Get

I've been seeing ads on my Facebook feed lately that claim to help you generate plots for your novels. I guess my question would be "If you haven't got a plot, why do you want to write a novel?" A novel needs a plot, a reason to exist. As a reader I get tired of  some "literary" novels that tell a lot about how a person feels and how he got that way without the person ever doing anything interesting. Many books that are hailed by critics as "stunning" and "evocative" fail to hold my attention because nothing happens. Even a plot where things happen will disappoint me if those things are unbelievable or disappointing. A main character who kills had better have a reaaaaaalllly good reason for it. And both the murder and the resulting events must be logical. Here are some examples that disappointed me, despite the author's skill with words. I fully admit I'm in the minority here, because all of these were successful books; some

Where Do You Stop Reading?

Last week I posted about the reader's delight: four great books I read all in a short time. Today I'd like to talk about the ones we don't finish. My most recent "I'm not reading any more of this" book started on a weak note, but I stuck with it while the author rehashed the previous installment, figuring maybe I needed to know the stuff to get Book #2. Then the protagonist put himself in a situation where he was locked in without telling anyone or giving himself an emergency escape. I thought that was unwise, but as an author I know that we sometimes ignore what real people would do in order to make a story work. It's a story, after all. The stopping point came in a scene that was clearly included only to shock the reader. The event had nothing to do with historical detail and didn't advance the plot an iota. It was simply degrading to the protagonist and uncomfortable for me to "watch." It was almost as if the author yelled from beh