Where I rant about lazy writing…Posted: December 28, 2012 Filed under: On writing | Tags: coincidence, editing, writing 5 Comments
I recently discovered an entirely new fantasy series by one of my long-time favourite authors, and gleefully ordered all five books off the interwebs. (Ok, clearly the series wasn’t that new. But it was new to me. M’kay?) The first one, where she introduces the premise of the series, was very cute, although the combat at the end felt tacked on. The bad guy appeared out of nowhere because I guess she realised she needed an ending.
I’ve just finished the third book. And I’m regretting having bought the other two. This is an experienced but prolific writer, and I can’t figure out whether she’s gotten lazy, or whether she makes her publishers so much money that when she says she doesn’t need an editor they actually believe her instead of saying, “YES YOU DO, PENMONKEY! NOW WRITE! AND DO YOUR MONKEY DANCE! MWAHAHAHA!”
(That’s what publishers do, right?)
There were a few things about the book that bugged me:
1. The lead characters fell in love in about two days. But this was a fantasy/romance novel, so I guess you get that as part of the genre.
2. The enter key? It’s to your right… One particularly noteworthy paragraph is a PAGE AND A HALF LONG! More than forty lines! I ended up getting bored and skipping it. I don’t care how magnificent your prose is, how exciting the fight scene, that is just too long—especially in genre fiction. (Maybe that’s the norm in literary fiction; I don’t know. I don’t read it for a reason!)
3. A lot of the information was repeated. The storyline followed two characters, and they would often notice the same things separately. Not even big, important things, but things like décor. What material the inn is constructed of. As a reader, I already know after the first time you mention it. I don’t need to have unimportant things described twice! (Or even important ones!)
4. The characters seemed to share a brain (except when it came to noticing the décor). The author would have one character discover something the hard way. Then the other, in the next scene, would intuit the exact same thing with absolutely no prompting or justification whatsoever. One character discovers a hidden tunnel; the other guesses there must be hidden tunnels. One character decides to go to the stable and try to talk to another in secret; the other coincidentally decides that exact moment is a GREAT time to go to the stables. Lazy. Lazy. Lazy! (See how annoying that repeating thing is?)
I don’t think there should ever be a coincidence in a novel that favours the protagonist. I’ve got no problem with the best friend coincidentally turning up at the worst possible time, so it looks like the main character is doing something inappropriate with the best friend’s boyfriend. I’ve got no problem with the bad guys—or police—coincidentally arriving when the good guys are trying to break into the occult bookstore to steal a tome to prevent the apocalypse. Go nuts making life hard for your protags.
But if you have the coincidences rain down to help the main characters, expect me to throw your book across the room and then rant on the internet about it.