Sunday, July 14, 2013

How not to write

I decided I'm taking a week's break from the inspirational teens section as something happened this week to annoy me quite a bit. For the first time in a seriously long time, I disliked a book. And when a say I haven't disliked any book I've read in a long time, I mean it - the last time I refused to carry on reading was when I picked up a Jeremy Strong book at nine years old. 

It really saddens me when I don't like a book. I regard all published books as a work of art, and I feel honoured that I can  share the same amazing experience as everyone else when I pick it up. I feel like I have disrespected the author when I judge their work... after all, I'm only one person and its just my opinion. I won't mention the name of the current series I am reading so far, but what I can tell you is that it shows other authors how NOT to write. 

So, from this series of books alone, I will give you a list of what not to include in your writing:

1. Cut off sentences.

Yes, I get it. We are all interrupted at times. But the point of a cut off sentence in a book is to show a moment of terror for a character where their speech has been cut off because of severe emotion, or if a character suddenly falls from a great height. I wouldn't recommend that you include too many of these, or otherwise each page will be full of dashes and lost causes of sentences. Not cool.

2. Character inconsistency.

This is the worst - I'm not the most observant of people so when I notice the inconsistent description in character that becomes a problem. For example, in this series of books, there a four teens on the run, one of which has diabetes. For the week or so that they are running, each of the teens has about two candy bars each. By my calculations, the diabetic boy would have been in pretty bad shape and unable to carry on with the running away as it requires a lot of energy that he just wouldn't have. And the main character is supposed to be a really clever girl, yet she plays the damsel in distress the whole time and is pretty much rendered useless. If you are going to plan a character, plan the character well. Any inconsistency will be seen.

3. Dragging the book on.

Kudos if you can write about someone baking pancakes for six whole pages, but it isn't very interesting to read about. Possibly the worst thing for a reader is when a book drags on without any change in the equilibrium of the plot. Even if bad things keep happening, we still want to see a bit of balance. Plot dragging is depressing for a reader, and they would much prefer an action packed, slightly longer single book than a snail paced trilogy.

4. Google is a big no no. 

Never make your characters google something that you could otherwise turn into an adventure so that they could find out the information in a more exciting way. You can pretty much google anything nowadays and if you applied this to the whole plot you could fit the book into a wiki page. Google is just about the least imaginative source of information for a fiction novel I have ever come across. Make it a law in your house never to include it in your writing. Ever. 

5. Main characters should be central to the story.

This is the golden rule, folks. Especially if you are writing in first person - make you main character the most interesting and valuable character in the whole cast. The books I am currently reading do not do this. Actually, I'm thinking I could get more pleasure out of reading the life span of a wet lettuce. Make sure your book simply cannot go on without your main character, because this series I am reading right now would probably be better without the MC. The other characters would run faster, have less problems, and reach their goal quicker.

I hope you have found this information both useful and amusing. Please don't make the same mistakes most bad novels make. 

The Book Critic x

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