I take classes, I read self-help books, I read articles on the do’s & don’ts of writing and I’ve learned so much. Most of the general rules are easy to follow so why is it when I read current fiction now I see these common rules broken?
I always have a book open on my nightstand and I always have an audiobook in my car CD player. I’ve been trying to mix genres to experience a broader range of authors, of recent authors, not all our old favorites like Austen and Tolstoy.
I realize I will recognize these mistakes easier now that I have this new knowledge. I’m not criticizing because I think I’m a better writer then most recent published authors…the truth is I’m feeling slightly cheated as a reader.
If I have to learn these things to become the best writer I can, and if I have to learn these things just to claw my way through the writing world then why shouldn’t these published authors have to follow the same rules.
I’m a writer, but I’m also a reader who wants to read quality–not crap.
Here are a few phrases I’ve read lately that have made me shake my head and say, “What?”
He asked with token interest.
”What?” I don’t even know what this means. What exactly is ‘token’ interest anyway? I’ve been told emphatically not to use bad tag lines and this has to be the worst tag line I have ever read.
Standing, he pulled his pants on as he walked across the room.
“What?” Who can stand, pull their pants on and walk all at the same time? Not me…
One book I read recently had every character using the same phrases over and over.
“That damned cat,” Jane said shaking her head.
Two pages later…
“That damned detective,” Bob said shaking his head.
Four pages later…
“Those damned kids,” Mrs. Bracey said shaking her head.
Rule #1: Your characters must have character!! They should have their own phrases, voices and distinct personality flaws, not the same for each person. I felt like every character in this book was a clone.
Young adult book are the worst, don’t get me started on the awful tag lines and gazillion typos I found in the Twilight books. But even people writing for kids should care about good writing.
I understand that published authors sell books which makes them exempt from the rules we have to follow as new writers, but shouldn’t they want their best work published? Shouldn’t they want smart readers to be impressed or at least satisfied?
Do any of my writing friends feel as cheated as I do?
Share with me some of the awful things you’ve found in books now that you’ve taken a few writing courses.