Thursday, March 25, 2010

A small request to the writers of the world

(Not to imply that I think I'm such a great writer that I'm allowed to give advice . . . rather, this advice is coming from an observant reader.)

I'm listening to a certain book on tape, and I'm not sure if I'm going to make it through.  I've heard lots of praise for the book, which is part of a series, but I'm not feelin' it.  That being said, I have no wish to slander the author's name, nor do I want to make anyone who enjoyed it feel bad or embarrassed for liking it, so I will not be divulging the title of the book or any other definitive details like character names, etc.  I figure these are good general guidelines that could be applied to a lot of books.
Number 1:  Stop using the word quickly so much.  Or at all!  "I quickly popped the ravioli in my mouth." "I quickly walked to class."  "I quickly brushed my hair."  In the book on tape that I'm suffering through, 9.99 out of 10 quickly's are unnecessary.  And there are a lot of quickly's!

Number 2:  Swiftly is a synonym of quickly, in case you hadn't heard.  Rotating between quickly and swiftly does not solve the problem.  Just delete the word altogether . . . I think you'll be surprised that the sentence still makes sense.  And your readers will stop having fits of Tourette's.

Number 3:  Try mixing up your sentence structure.  A little variety never hurt anyone, the chicken said to the other white meat.  A little variety never hurt anyone, said the chicken to the other white meat.  Or, tricky tricky, The chicken said A little variety never hurt anyone to the other white meat.  We've got said the chicken and the chicken said and--I know this is crazy talk!--we've also got a quote in the middle of the description!  "Wow," she said in disbelief.

Number 3.5:  Speaking of that . . . in the same way that the simplistic sentence structure as noted in Number 3 is maddening, and replacing swiftly for quickly makes my mind go numb and eyeballs ache like they're being tortured, the author seems to think keeping a thesaurus handy and swapping out the word said will gussy up her writing:  "Wow," she exclaimed. "Wow," he mused. "Wow," she retorted. "Wow," he whispered . . . Boring, boring, boring!  "Learn how to write," she pronounced.  "Get a clue," she demanded.  "Not a chance," she said flatly.

Number 4:  Perhaps the author should save their thesaurus for situations like:  his/her "expression was unreadable" or any reference to "perfect face" "white skin" "sweet breath."  I think the book would only be about 4 pages long, if not for the incessant repetitions on the appearance of the two main characters.

Number 4.5:  No one is that clutzy.  Let's shoot for a little realism!  Just as over-focusing on someone's perfection gets dreary and irksome, spending too much time repeating a person's imperfections is equally annoying.

Number 5:  What else?  There is more to life than biology class, gym class, and the occasional hike in the woods.  I'd like to hear about it.

PS:  As subtle as I tried to be, I'm sure that if you've read the book then you know which one I'm talking about.  Again, I'm not trying to make anyone feel crappy for their choice of pleasure reading.  So in defense of the book:  the story (what there is of it)(see Number 5) is actually very good, and I like it.  I think it's creative and unusual.  My interest in the story is the only reason I'm continuing to suffer through the book on tape.  But the writing!  Geez almighty.  It's horrible.

And I think that's the unfortunate shame.

3 comments:

Tny8 said...

I haven't read the book that I think you're talking about but I completely agree. I read a series of books about a certain wizard and spent quite a bit of time explaining the difference between a good story and good writing. They are not the same.

Farmers Wife said...

Hi Kate, just wanted to let you know I quoted you on my blog and linked back to you. Hope this is okay xx

Cheeseboy said...

I tried to quickly read this blog post, but could not bring myself to do it. It was fascinating.

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