Otherwise known as I just listened to a book with stuff in it that bothered me and I wanted to rant, but instead decided to be productive with my observations. Or some horse shit like that.
From time to time, I look at how my writing has evolved and why. My novels are shorter, in part, because I’ve learned to be concise in my writing. I’ve learned how to eliminate repetition of information. The stories I write are as complex as always, but I use less words. Frequently used words get changed to a different word or the sentence restructured. Less back story. Less unnecessary conversation.
Every writer will tell you, in order to write well, you have to read. We all know when I say read I almost always, for me, mean listen, just to be clear. While on the subject of listening, listening is a great way to learn what works and what doesn’t because the ear hears things the brain may not notice when we read. But I digress. Writers need to read. Read. And then read more. And when you’ve read more, read more. It’s true.
I also find reading well-written work and work that probably needs another edit to be beneficial. A piece that incorporates all the major senses, has well developed characters who grow, and a plot line with an arch, encourages us to strive for this level of writing. We can learn from the master, but we can also learn from those who are still striving. Read the less-than books too.
Why read below par novels? Because I learn as much, often more, from poorly written stories . Stories with plot holes, or pieces that don’t make sense, show me what not to do. Or what I don’t like. A story with an overdone plot, reminds me what I’ve read too many times and I should steer away from anything similar. Nothing points out what a flat-Bob is better than reading a story with such a character. Or reading a book where a character never grows, reminds me to allow my characters to change.
I like murder mysteries and stories with police involvement of some sort, doesn’t matter FBI, CIA, DHS, local police, or military. But what I don’t like are stories with the bad guy’s and the good guy’s point of view. I don’t like to hear the bad guy’s thoughts at all, but that’s a personal preference. I don’t like to hear both sides because I want to figure the who-dun-it along with the character solving the mystery or murder. Or if I’m reading a bad guy’s point of view, I want to figure out how they’re going to outwit the lawman. (I rarely read these.)
In a mystery, this includes police dramas, I don’t like to be lead around only to find in the end it’s a character that’s never been mentioned before dropped in as a surprise. That’s not to say do not include the red herring, those are always good, but there is a difference.
Also information dropped-in when something happens that should have been foreshadowed is a big no-no for me. Perfect example. In my recent WIP, one character sees some men in black suits and immediately thinks of the secret service who have been around all night… awe, but I never mentioned they were around until just then when my character sees them. I went back and added the detail. I might not have noticed this if I hadn’t just read a book where this kind of thing was done and not done well.
To me, these seemingly minor items are a sign of a writer still learning their craft. My recent read, a famous author, I suspect used a ghostwriter for this particular book. Or at least I hope so. Why? Because in this story he does some pretty obvious rookie mistakes, and as I’m writing my current WIP and hearing these mistakes, I’m taking a harder look at what I just wrote. Don’t just drop in new stuff that probably should have been foreshadowed. And if your novel is yet to be published, go back and fix it.
So learn from other writers. Read lots. Write more. The first draft is most likely going to suck, that’s why we rewrite and edit and rewrite and edit and yeah, that route.
My two cents, for what it’s worth.
(No names are ever used when I rant on a novel or author as my views are subjective and I would never want someone publicly spouting out about my work. I give the same respect to famous authors as those like myself still climbing the ladder. So please don’t ask what book or who the author was.)