Reading a new author is like dating. You sit together in some place comfy, like a restaurant, or your bed (ah-hem) and you get to know that author. And when you are a writer, like I am, you read a book in the manner of an older person who dates (ditto here too.) You know what you like and you even know a thing or two about this romance business. You also know how it is done, properly.
So I am reading this book, and I so want to like it (and please don’t think it is your book, because I read A LOT of books in between writing bouts, so the odds is it isn’t yours. Honest. But if the shoe fits, you’re going home with the prince regardless of whether that glass slipper was yours.)
I want to like this book. It has elements I adore.
But what I don’t like is the writing and it ticks me off.
It has a god-damned prologue. Strike one. Hey, even Tolkien had a prologue. It was called The Hobbit, and it was its own separate book. This is the twenty-first century and rambling chapters filled with everyday life belong a few centuries back. Start at the inciting incident, for the love of all that’s holy.
Dumpity Dumpy Not the first, but the first three chapters past the prologue are info-dumps. There is too much telling and not enough showing. I might have to suss out the author’s e-address and send e-copies of books about emotional beats.
There are too many characters. I mean, I’d have to grow an extra hand to count all the characters introduced in the first chapters. I know there is a wide world out there but it’s a novella. Think of your pages as a house where a party is held. What’s the fire code? How many people are allowed in the building? You can debate this back and forth, but if you are writing below 50 K then three to five. The two MC’s, one side-kick who is a bff for one of them, and a couple secondary characters that help to move the action along. Other than that it just gets unmanageable and your writing resembles a contortionist putting her head between her ass. It’s not pretty and a little weird too. Pro Hint: Secondary characters who sole purpose is to prove your MC has a life should be escorted offstage.
Too many damn passive words. There are so many “was doing” things that if the book was a hard copy I’d fling against the wall in frustration. But I don’t want to damage my e-reader. I don’t care if is f-ing grammatically correct, it’s just not good writing.
Danger Will Robinson. Vague words ahead. Too many of these things make my eyeballs bleed. For heaven’s sake, trim and/or define those vague words. Vague words are empty shells. They are placeholders that drain meaning from your prose. Dig into your words, give them shape, definition and make them bleed meaning.
Here are the vague words in the 1000 words of prose from said nameless work:
– cold – cold (7)~ Don’t say cold. Say frigid, freezing, frosty. Indicate how cold it is.
– like – like (4)~ Say enjoy, appreciate, favored among a few.
– all – all (4)–No. Just no. Get rid of it or define “all.”
– would – would (1) An occasional would is okay.
– some – some (1)–cut. Do not need.
– about – about (1)–Occasional use Ok. Litter your manuscript? Cut them with a razor blade.
– probably – probably (1)–likely, doubtless, indubitably, unquestionably
– simply – simply (1) easily, clearly, distinctly, plainly, intelligibly, lucidly, legibly; obviously, evidently, conspicuously, unmistakably, transparently but not simply because your reader just skipped over the word because it didn’t tell her anything.
– deal – deal (1) business transaction, dealings, arrangement, negotiation; pact, contract, compact, agreement, bargain, price.
Sometimes more is less in writing. Carve into those words and make them bleed meaning.
Okay, that’s my rant for today. I’ll go back to writing.
Until next time,