I finished reading a novel this week.
That wouldn’t normally be the cause for a blog post, but this book has been a struggle. I must have taken me four months to get through. I brought it ‘blind’ after reading the blurb on Amazon, with the promise of Celtic gods, supernatural horror, Scottish scenery and, to be honest, the prospect of a bit of blood.
I’ve been fortunate to meet a few self-published authors recently. While I’ve decided self-publishing isn’t for me, I’ve come to respect indie authors for their drive and self-confidence.
Having said that, independent publishing is also a way poorly written books can find their way into print. The novel I inflicted on my Kindle was one a traditional publisher would surely never touch.
It was, though, an eye-opener to read something so badly written. I could certainly see why some things are frowned on in writing:
- ‘Head hopping’ (or switching viewpoints). Viewpoint seemed to change several times a page. I found it hard to focus on a character, or to relate to a character;
- Style. After having dangling participles thrust at me time after time I can see why editors dislike them and why they’re technically incorrect anyway. That’s only the tip of the iceberg of my technical gripes;
- I got fed up with spelling mistakes and simple errors in grammar. Normally these would be taken care of by an editor. I appreciate now how distracting they can be;
- Characterisation. I couldn’t tell the characters apart, or understand who they were or what drove them. That meant I couldn’t build any empathy toward them. I certainly didn’t care when a couple got killed;
- Plot. There wasn’t one, really, apart from people dodging random monsters all the time. That made it monotonous.
So, it was an education to read a book that had a lot of the flaws writers are told to avoid. I’ve not always grasped why some things are considered bad writing, and this book helped educate me!