Monday, April 1, 2013

B for BOLD

B for BOLD              

Since my theme for this year’s challenge is about fulfilling your dream (mine is to become a full time writer) the word ‘BOLD’ is very fitting.

But maybe not in the way you’re thinking.

As writers, or painters, or musicians, or whatever—we have to be bold. But is there such a thing as being too bold? Can we push too hard?

One of my current hobbies is checking out free or at least inexpensive e-books I see posted on twitter, facebook, Amazon, or anywhere else where these little “gems” might show up. It doesn’t matter what genre. I’m very curious to know what other newbees are putting out there. So far, it’s been a lesson in futility. Look at the following example:

After reading the first ten pages of a fantasy novel with a good premise and attractive cover, here is my evaluation.

Repetition—The author repeated a LOT of things in the first few pages. For one, he makes it a point to mention that one character is chilled as she walks down the street. Two pages later, He points out that “late fall cold had begun to set in”, and then explains how his character is trying to keep out the chill again. ALL IN THE SAME SCENE

The bad guys in the book are larger than humans. The author uses every word imaginable—several times—to describe this size difference. Mention it once or twice and let it GO, or use your action to convey the point. Speaking of action, several characters “Stopped dead in their tracks” in the first ten pages. And one guy whined several times. I don’t know about you, but my brain latches on to these things. Then I’m backtracking to confirm I just saw the same phrase a page or two back.

Tag lines—Oh my! Here is a list of tag lines on ONE page: he informed, she repeated, he whined, he sputtered, he demanded, he warned. ON ONE PAGE! Not once does the author say; he said. Lesson—Lose the tag lines or keep it simple.

Dialogue MUST fit the character speaking. In one scene, the author is describing a confrontation between the good guy and the bad guy. This bad guy (huge in size compared to the good guy, as we’ve already been told over and over) is supposed to be one mean dude. Here is a line in the book. “Stop!” he bellowed at Kale. “Or I’ll skewer your sister. I’m not kidding.”

REALLY? Skewer? Why not gut or amputate something? But he’s not KIDDING! What? Is he twelve?

My point is this: sometimes the time to be bold is not when we’ve completed our first manuscript and had our reading group critique it. Someone should have pointed these flaws out to the author. Now he/she has a book published that a knowledgeable reader will give up on after just a few pages.

Be BOLD in learning the craft and be willing to accept critique from those who know what they’re talking about. Put your absolute best out there.

If anyone would like a seasoned reader to read and review their book, I’m all ears.

Now Boldly Go!



Man O' Clay said...

Oh, it's so hard to accept critiques, isn't it? But I hear you. That's one reason I'm so hesitant to even read blogs - there's a lot of junk out there.

I did send my first book to a publisher yesterday...we'll see if my boldness will pay off. And maybe I'll beg you to read it someday...

Jess * Jessie * Jessy said...

James, I learned so much from my editor's line edits. I have a lot of bad habits! You might pick up a GREAT book I discovered. It's the best how-to book I've read in a long time: how to AVOID some things. Check out my blogpost about it:

in the coop said...

I like to get the newbie books, too. It's fun to see what newbie authors are writing. I get stuck on the details just as you do. I am in a book club. Many times the group will love a book, but I couldn't even finish it, because I was so annoyed with the overuse of "he muttered" or giving a character the name "Go". I am not perfect in my writing, but I am not writing a book for the world to see. I'm all for author's self-publishing, but for the love, please, please, please, get someone to honestly critique and edit it!

James R Tate said...

Thanks for the comments folks. I just finished up that book, Jess.
I thought it was wonderful and am working to apply the techniques.