Started reading an award winning S.F. novel last night.
Started off pretentious. "Keep going," I told myself. Maybe she drops the pretentiousness of the prologue, the endless confusing prologue.
The story starts off finally; it's in present tense which I find distracting.
I keep reading, some pretty wordplay, some deep themes, great characterization, interesting ideas.
40 pages in, after she has introduced a couple of new characters, I realize that the scene keeps going, I turn the pages and see that even though she's pretty much covered what she needed to cover, this interaction goes on for five more pages.
I realize I'm bored.
I quit reading.
40 pages in and nothing is happening. Worse--things are happening, big things, but they are all off stage. We see the aftermath of all the action.
She never shows us any of it.
The upshot? This book does a lot of the things I'm thinking I want to do (other than the pretentiousness) and I didn't like it. I could tell this was an attempt at a "literary" SF, and the action and pacing weren't going to be what I like these days.
I've noticed before that literary genre books tend to skip the action. I don't see any reason why, except they maybe don't want to be accused of actually writing the genre they're writing?
I wrote one of my first scenes in my first book as the aftermath of a giant battle. The main character walking through the wreckage. My writing teacher said,
"Show us the battle."
I've never forgotten that.
I've decided not to mention names--writing is a hard gig, so I won't slam any writer--but I also noticed this on another book that is famous, that has had a TV show, and which totally frustrated me. A great premise that the writer seems to avoid fulfilling all the way through the book. Magic, but no magic. War, but no battles. Utterly underwhelming.
Beautiful language and characterization and description, all in service to a story that refused to do anything.
I feel so out of step with the world.
So my stories are fast moving and spare. You know what? Maybe I should go with that. Maybe I should embrace it.
2 days ago