I decided to treat myself with some new books for Christmas. One is a paperback from our bookshop, that one is amazing and I am loving it [Sinai Soldiers by Dave Hayward]. Problem with paperbacks is I can’t read them them at night. I read on a device at night (kindle or phone).
So, I loaded up some new books to read.
The first, I finished, kinda enjoyed but grew very very tired of all the blurting, gasping, hissing, commenting, countering, and blushing that went on. [Shakes head.] But the story was okay and the characters were fine. It was a borderline cosy mystery and as far as they go, not outstanding but fine.
Next, I started reading a new book by a ‘best selling author’ only to discover it was written in first person present and second person present except when it wasn’t. I can’t even tell you what the story was about because my brain could not cope with the clumsy and awful first person present tense and the switching back and forth to second person in the middle of paragraphs. The author is supposedly a best seller and the book was the first in her ‘best selling’ series. It left me shaking my head. It’s sitting on my Kindle taunting me because I only read 5%. Supposed to be a mystery/spy genre. Can’t say for sure because it was so annoying to read I can’t even tell you about the characters let alone the story.
So I abandoned that book, citing irreconcilable differences. Clearly that book was not meant for me to read.
I moved on to something else.
This time, sadly, it’s an author who loves over explaining. His long info dumps are mansplaining at it’s finest and I’m skipping large swathes of text to find the flimsy story. To be fair I don’t care that much about the main character because she’s a tad ‘whispery’. Speak up for fucks sake absolutely no need to whisper every other sentence.
So, I did a bit of an internet search to find out who this person is. First person that popped up was a plumber from CHCH. Figured that wasn’t him because the story might have a bit less mansplaining and a bit more guts, if he’d written it. Refined the search and found the offender. Of course he was a teacher. I was pretty sure he was by the second sentence of the book.
I know many teachers who write and are wonderful at story telling … this guy, not so much. He’s mansplaining the teaching profession at every turn, in minute detail.
To be fair, as a reader, I don’t give a fuck, I just want a decent story. I don’t need to know about the hierarchy of the school system or anything else pertaining to NZ primary schools. Even if I didn’t know all those things from dealing with schools for-fucking-ever, I wouldn’t want to know any of it because it is irrelevant, boring, and burying what story there is under “look at how much I know” bs.
I cannot work out the genre. Generally I read crime and this came up in a search for crime/mystery/thrillers but I think it’s supposed to be a romance.
I imagine it was written for the overseas market as he explains how to say Tui.
And the dialogue … relax a bit fucker and let the characters do the work. Everything he mansplains is cranked out again in this dry clumsy dialogue, so, I figure it’s okay to skip hunks of text?
There ends my rant regarding 3 new books on my kindle … I still have 2 more. Fingers crossed.
Book 1. Going to use a lot of this one when I discuss dialogue and action tags. Every sentence was snapped, hissed, spat, blurted, gushed, hummed, beamed, mused etc. The worst thing is, the dialogue didn’t need any of that, it would’ve worked wonderfully without all the silly tags and made for a better story. The lesson here is: Let your characters speak and let your readers interpret. Readers are pretty smart. 🙂
Book 2. I can use parts of this one when discussing many aspects of writing. Many. But mostly, pick a POV and stick with it. Of course you can use more than one POV, but do it well, and don’t flip POV mid paragraph. And as for first person present tense, now that is hard to pull off smoothly. If you’re going down that road you need a competent editor and damn good beta readers. Clearly, not what happened here.
Book 3. I do love discussing info dumping and the many ways you can work little bits of important info into a story without boring the reader, stopping the story dead, and filling white space with shit no one cares about.
Jury’s still out regarding perseverance with this book. Apart from the info dumping this book is full of stiff and clunky dialogue and uncomfortable characters. Something else I enjoy talking about with writers.
Just goes to show … even books that are a tad shite can be useful. I’m teaching an intro to Crime Writing in Feb at CEC and I have extra notes to play with now. 🙂
Quick word about the Smashwords sale … some of my books are free until Jan 1, the others are HUGELY discounted. Off you pop and fill up those devices!