Ever read a book you just can’t get into? Do you know that sick feeling in your stomach that says this is both faulty writing and bad storytelling? Yep, it’s happening to me right now. Despite my love of all stories there are some that I just can’t bring myself to finish. But this isn’t the biggest problem, this book belongs to a writer friend of mine.
I pride myself on honesty, but I also want to keep my friends, how does one marry these sometimes incongruent values?
As a writer you have writer friends, right? Well, if you don’t you REALLY need to make some. They will give you an honest opinion of that new short story, screenplay, novella, non-fiction book, creative fiction novel, poem, you’re writing.
Sorry, but if you’re writing and it’s your first, and you think it will sell fantastically, chances are your head is in the clouds. There’s a small chance your book will be snatched up as a fad and spread like wildflower to every teenager’s room that is smothered with Justin Bieber pictures, but there’s a large chance you’re wrong.
But what am I saying? Don’t listen to me. I am both unpublished and an amateur. Maybe my head is in the clouds sometimes –it almost certainly is– but I have no delusions about any book I publish ‘doing well’, but I also don’t think my writing is as ineffective and trite as this current book that I am dragging my eyes over. On my kindle, I am constantly looking at the little percentage sign in the bottom right hand corner. Everytime the numbers change, I give a little cheer, do some maths and think WOOOO! only something-percent to go!
So the book I’m reading is YA fantasy fiction *shock horror* I know! It’s not like that genre isn’t really really really popular right now *sarcasm*. And so I take Twilight as the book that many authors are trying to ‘re-create’ in some sense (the success of it), and compare it to other books I’m reading. And I can see a similar style of narrative in this story, but with one problem, the author isn’t telling the story well. I find myself getting bored and skipping over parts. In Twilight, despite my eye-rolling at angsty teenager borderline-codependent-relationship-behaviour, I liked the story. But this book isn’t drawing me in like Twilight.
Look, I LOVE fantasy fiction, but boy I can spot an author’s first novel a mile away. There’s too much stuff happening in it that has nothing to do with the main storyline, and the information dumps with not enough action *facepalm*. But what I hate most is that I really want to like this book. The cover is great (although doesn’t seem to suggest the mood that I get from reading the book) and the blurb was very convincing — that’s what encouraged me to read it (and buy it). This person has finished a novel, they have gone to the trouble of self-publishing, they have nurtured it into a novel and that is incredible in itself. How can that be so wrong?
I should finish the book first, out of respect to the writer and then figure out how to give this negative feedback. I don’t mean negative by ‘mean, horrible, nasty, awful’ I mean negative by ‘helpful, critical, problem-solving’. I’m thinking I should just point out the strengths, you know, to try to keep fostering our writing relationship, but I also want to help that person to improve.