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BREAKING THE RULES – AND GETTING AWAY WITH IT

August 1, 2012

            There is one thriller writer out there that writes a decent story yet it is marred by his lousy technique. Either his editors are asleep at the wheel or they don’t think writing properly is important. I won’t mention this guy’s name but I slam him in every Amazon review I do. Yeah, that sounds a bit hypocritical because I buy all his books. Yet I have never given him a five star review and never will because he’ll never reach that plateau of perfection. I’m just thankful he writes in third person or I’d stop reading him altogether.

            His stories come from a great premise, a team of experts with a catchy name and their headquarters lie buried in a secret location in the desert. They go on various missions around the world to save the day. He puts a lot of time researching his subject material, but apparently not enough because he’s been slammed before by other reviewers for not checking all his facts. I have a feeling he just uses the internet? Sounds like me for a lot of stuff. I can’t complain much about that. I rely on the Internet a lot yet I also use the phone, personal experience, phone calls and e-mails to get what I need, or else I just go fuzzy on details. I hate to get something wrong but I don’t come down too hard on him for that as no matter how careful you are, it can happen. As I’ve preached enough times before, do your research! However, that doesn’t mean you aren’t going to get something wrong. In this author’s case, he seems to have more than his share. Maybe his bad writing technique brings it out more from his detractors?

            My beef’s with him are the way he completely abandons most writing rules and gets away with it. He has from his first book, which was so horribly line edited it looked like a first draft. His subsequent books have been vast improvements at least with typos. I don’t know how he ever got past an agent except from pure dumb luck because that book wasn’t that great of a story. It intrigued me enough to seek out his next one so it had merit or maybe morbid curiosity?

            Getting to the main point, what do I mean about lousy writing technique?

            POV (that’s Point Of View for you newbies):

            His point of view is all over the place. He head hops with abandon. I’m not talking an occasional switch back and forth from one character to another, I’m talking a constant shift within each scene. His scenes are structured so that one may have a character dominating a particular scene, but that’s about it. POV shifts from paragraph to paragraph, sometimes three or four times within a paragraph. My head spins trying to figure out who’s head is who from sentence to sentence! Somehow, the story flows but it’s an effort to keep up with things.

            What’s worse is author intrusion. He’s a bit clue dropper. “They would soon find out what so in so would do to them…” So far in seventy some pages he’s done that twice, maybe more.

            Passivity:

            He writes so passively I can count at least four to ten “started to’s” or “began to’s” on each page. He uses “just” at least twice per page and “was” is so liberally sprinkled throughout its more like an article than a verb.

            Telling

            Telling versus showing is one thing but when even I notice it, and you know I’m not the best at figuring that one out, it has to be bad. Enough said about that.

            Who does this guy know? How did he get so lucky? Why doesn’t his editor slap him up the side of the head and make him do it right?

            I don’t know the answers but he’ll never be a thriller writer up there with the best like James Rollins or Preston & Child or Clive Cussler or even Dan Brown (who has his own issues) or any of the others that at least have good editors and some kind of technique.

            The guy can write a decent story but it’s marred by poor writing that frankly it’s polluting the marketplace, in my opinion and doesn’t set a very good example. Yet here I am supporting him by buying and reading his books. I know, hypocritical. I should boycott them but I still see something redeemable about his stories. I’ll voice my opinions in my review on Amazon though they’ve done no good in the past and probably won’t now. He has his fans and apparently enough sales to keep putting out hardbacks and paperbacks. Yet I’m pretty sure he’ll never be a best seller unless he cleans up his act and if he hasn’t by now, I don’t think he ever will.

            I still find enough story buried in those disjointed words worth reading.

            Oh well…

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