Sunday, November 12, 2006


I'm getting incredibly irritated by the prevalent habits, tics an cliches employed by writers these days. I would say I probably complete one book in twenty at the moment- my bedside table is cluttered with opened or bookmarked novels that I'm never going to bother finishing. I'm not going to mention any books by name, I think that's probably a little unprofessional to get into the whole rubbishing-the-competition-on-your-own-blog thing. It's just naff really. However...instead, what I'll do is list some of the things that really, re-e-eally grate as far as I'm concerned. I'll go for the ever popular 'top ten' format. We al love lists don't we?

10. Foreshadowing: usually this'll come in the form of a dream sequence, or a vision, hallucination, even a surfacing memory from the distant past. Occasionally it'll come in the form of a non-too subtle detail being inexplicably focused upon by the author. I really don't get why authors like to hint at their punchlines.

9. The Witty Narrator: I like the narrator to be an aloof and impartial observer. Describing things as is, NOT, butting in with wry and pithy asides. Certainly in 1st person, that's not an issue as you expect your protagonist to have his opinion on something, to have a sense of humour and use it. But the narrator?...He/she just needs to butt-out tell the reader what's happening and let the characters do all the emoting, cracking gags etc etc

8. Overweight novels: always get an author debuts with a fantastic, pacey piece of work, and then as the reputation (and sales) grow, the subsequent books get fatter and fatter. Quite clearly what's happening there is that the writer's ego is inflating - their editor thus feels less able to wade in with suggestions of sweeping cuts...because of course, the writing's so bloody wonderful, not a word of it can be considered superfluous. I just tossed aside a very fat book by a well known author that clearly hasn't been touched by an editor. There were appallingly dull, longwinded asides everywhere, utterly irrelevent subplots everywhere, and a seemingly endless cast of characters being introduced...virtually one every page...all of whom had lengthy backstories they needed to tell. *sigh*

(whinge 7-4 coming soon)


John Prigent said...

Oh how right you are, Alex! I can think of several authors who do that - including one whose next book in a long series I shall only read in hope that it completes the story at last. But don't discourage your brother, we want _longer_ stories from him!

Graeme Canty said...

Darn, Gonna have to completly re-write my novel now...teehee. Just kidding. Thought it was time I came by here, so a made a wee comment to.