Saturday, May 2, 2009

Avoiding a review...

I finally got through a book which shall remain unnamed here. It was written by someone I know and I think that perhaps they're awaiting a glowing review from yrs trly.

However, I've learned the hard way--or at least I hope I've learned--to keep my mouth shut when I have nothing good to say. (Except of course when it comes to comics reviews! With them it's blah blah blah and damn the repercussions!) When I first started out reviewing books I did some that I thought were a "in the future, perhaps you should try doing A because what you did in this book was pure crapola!" vein. Sometimes I've run into the author (much) later and luckily none seem to have recalled those reviews to me.

Now, if said author is famous out the wazoo and I'm getting tired of them relying on that fame as they churn out dreck, I will bring that up. At that stage, they should have thick enough skin to handle it, and perhaps they'll even take the advice so the next book I read from them will be utterly enjoyable and live up to their talent.

Back to the original novel, which was NOT by a famous author. Funny thing is: the prose was perfectly fine. The premise was fairly innovative.

Unfortunately I hated both protagonists, their character arcs didn't amount to much, the basic plot was filled with gargantuan plot holes, the protagonists not only did stupid things but did them over and over, and the text and conversations repeated themselves endlessly. I dreaded picking up the book as I tried to finish it.

So I scratched my head, refused to lie my way through a positive review but rather decided not to write one at all (and do my best to evade the author asking my where my review might be), and will try to use this book's weaknesses to remind me to look for the same in my own books.

Lead characters need to be likable, maybe even lovable. Reminder to self: find "Save the Cat" from wherever it is in the house and READ IT. (The premise for the title is: even the most unlikable hero can be redeemed in the readers' eyes if they do something noble along the way, such as saving a cat that everyone else has overlooked. Though I've never read the book, I'm told that the way Mario Puzo made his Godfather a character his readers wouldn't hate, was by introducing him--the reader's first look--as someone who would right the wrongs visited upon his people when all their other avenues for justice had failed.)

Plots must make sense. Characters must not be TSTL (too stupid to live). Characters should have arcs, including more minor characters who still play fairly important parts. Villains should have redeeming characteristics so they don't devolve into cartoons.

And I must remind myself: chapters should have solid hooks at the end. Lately I've been busting my books up into chapters depending on page length, which just doesn't work a lot of the time though they follow publishers' guidelines. The new stuff should have definite hooks so the reader can't put the book down but must go on to the next chapter. Need to look back at my old stuff that hasn't been sent out and revise. Get those punches in!

Sounds like a lot of work. Think I'll take a nap and plan. Yeah, that's it. Plan.

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