Thursday, April 16, 2009

Today's post, with 74% less ranting!

So my job sucked again today (hooray for half-hour lunch breaks!), but the boss let me go home early to compensate for getting out of surgery at 1 instead of 12, so that was a bonus.

I've been working on critiquing a novel for a woman in my critique group, and it's made me realize that I'm fairly sensitive to style in novels.  Well, not quite - I've realized that for a while, but her novel has reminded me of it.  I'm a fan of what might be referred to as classic styles.  I like my narratives to be non-conversational when told from a third-person POV.  I don't mind conversational tones from a first-person POV.  I hate sentence fragments, both in first- and third-person POVs, even when the tone is conversational.

I get bored by run-on sentences.  I get bored with really long descriptions of mundane things.  I get lost when seven people are introduced in the first page and none of them are described at all.

I get distracted when my dog starts to eat the confetti that fell out of my hole-puncher.

In short, if the writing feels awkward at all, I have a really hard time getting past the first page.  Sometimes, when I force myself to continue, the writing and the story improve.  Sometimes, they don't.  

I recently re-read Terry Brooks' The Sword of Shannara.  I had first read it about fifteen years ago, and I loved it then.  That was when I was first getting into reading sci-fi and fantasy, which might be why I liked it so much.  This time around, it was like slogging through mud in many places.  It was full of pointless descriptions, and endless changes of POV, and it just didn't flow well.  The overall story was interesting, though, and that's what kept me reading.  I'm now re-reading The Elfstones of Shannara, and it's better.  In the notes at the beginning of this edition, Terry Brooks wrote a bit about the process, and how he had actually written something else in between the two that was just awful, and threw it out.  He then took all the advice that his editor gave him, and worked on this one.  Based on the difference between the two of them, if I ever get an editor, and he/she gives me advice on how NOT to suck, I think I'll take it!

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